Bob of old children's TV / SAT 2-15-20 / Chanel fragrance with French name / Epoch when modern mammals arose / Benchmark test for British students / Third largest city of Ottoman Empire

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Constructor: Randolph Ross

Relative difficulty: Easy (5:39 at a leisurely, non-speed pace)

THEME: none

Word of the Day: TORTOLA (18A: Largest of the British Virgin Islands) —
Tortola /tɔːrˈtlə/ is the largest and most populated of the British Virgin Islands, a group of islands that form part of the archipelago of the Virgin Islands.[2] It has a surface area of 55.7 square kilometres (21.5 square miles) with a total population of 23,908, with 9,400 residents in Road TownMount Sage is its highest point at 530 metres (1,740 feet) above sea level.
Although the British Virgin Islands (BVI) are under the British flag, it uses the US dollar as its official currency due to its proximity to and frequent trade with the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. The island is home to many offshore companies that do business worldwide. Financial services are a major part of the country's economy.
On 6 September 2017, the British Virgin Islands were extensively damaged by Hurricane Irma. The most severe destruction was on Tortola. News reports over the next day or two described the situation as "devastation". (wikipedia)
• • •

This puzzle felt like maybe the constructor was reliving the '60s and maybe I really didn't need to know all the details. Like maybe he went AWOL during Vietnam and then met a girl at a diner and they agreed to hook up later at a party ("IT'S A DATE") and then it's all kind of a blur of FREE LOVE and PHONE SEX and lots and lots of HASHEESH and TEA, i.e. smoking cigarettes and watching Captain K-angaroo (Bob KEESHAN!) and honestly don't ask me how SUCK DRY and VEINY SALAMI are involved because I don't want to think about it. This thing felt so conspicuously and deliberately hotted up that when I got to 20D: What are depicted in some blue prints? and had THE SMU- filled in, I knew "blue prints" was a misdirection, but I was certain, *certain*, that that misdirection involved SMUT! If it's "blue" it's gotta be ... THE SMUTTS!? THE SMUTTY!? THE SMUT FX!?" By the way, I do not recommend googling [THE SMURFS smut], as you are (probably?) not going to like what you find. Anyway, despite the high TMI levels in this puzzle, it was probably about as much as I've ever liked a Randolph Ross puzzle, even if it was almost painfully rooted in times of yore. Still, there were too many awkward crosswordy answers and alt-spellings for the puzzle to be truly enjoyable. I felt like I tore through it simply because I'd been doing puzzles for thirty years, i.e. things like SELENE and EOCENE and TAPIR and ACTA and ADE and ESTERS and what not were reflex fills for me. I do enjoy destroying a Saturday puzzle, and the sex and drugs definitely woke me up, but it's still a mixed bag overall, I think.

["... smokin' cigarettes and watching Captain (kang) KAAAANGaroo, now don't tell me ..."]

Watched a character on "Ozark" OD on OPIOIDS last night, so that answer was weirdly fresh (48A: 21st-century health menace). I saw someone online mention that MEASLES fit in that same space, which is depressing (the fact that you might consider MEASLES for this clue, not the fact that it fit). Does Randolph Ross know a guy name "LEV" and is it his birthday because he's getting a lot of leverage out of that letter string today, especially in the SW where it's a LEVfest. Enjoy the FREE LEV, everyone. LEVIES! LEVERETS! ALEVELS! And then later, just when you thought you were LEV'd out: ELEVENTH! Happy birthday, Lev, wherever you are.

I will confess that I had no idea what TORTOLA was and I would've guessed food if you'd just showed me the word. Needed every cross but it didn't matter because that NE corner was so easy. I got in there off of just the -EX in PHONE SEX and took it all down in no time. PELAGE gave me a little more trouble because I really thought that was another word for the sea. The adjective "pelagic" comes to mind. What am I thinking of ... (consults dictionary) ... well, I'm right about "pelagic": "of, relating to, or living or occurring in the open sea: OCEANIC" (m-w). And PELAGE does indeed mean what the puzzle says it means ("the hairy covering of a mammal"). Weird that those words are etymologically unrelated: PELAGE from Latin via Middle French poil (hair) and "pelagic" ultimately from Greek pelagos (sea). That's all for today, students. See you tomorrow.


Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Lewis 6:44 AM  

Look at all that white!

My solve in each corner went basically as follows: Hmmm hmmm hmmm hmmm WORD hmmm hmmm hmmm hmmm WORD hmmm SPLAT! Those "hmmm"s, by the way, took a fair amount of time.

Felt as though I had to SUCK DRY my brain, but doing so brought PELAGE, LEVERETS, EGOISTE, EOCENE, and KEESHAN. A big help was knowing RR's penchant for wordplay, and thus I was extra suspicious of every word in the clues, consequently sussing fairly quickly (with bursts of mirth) those for RED SEA, LADLES, STEED, and ERASES.

So much fun and satisfaction all around, and talk about yin/yang opposite poles: the cross of FREE LOVE and THE SMURFS. I think we can just about fit the whole world between those two. Thank you for a wracking rollicking rich experience, Randolph!

sf27shirley 6:50 AM  

I had put in "Free Huey" but I guess that would have been too Sixties for you youngsters, even if you do know what to fill your pipes with.

JJ 7:21 AM  

I thought the NW was, by far, the hardest part of the puzzle.
I had TDS instead of YDS, and INE, instead of ADE. Even though I had KEESHAN, and REDSEA, I just took forever trying to see where I went astray.
It was like a good powder day on the slopes with all that white stuff. So happy that I made it all the way across and down

Seth 7:28 AM  

Liked it a lot, but several Naticks for me: INHERED/KEESHAN could be I; EGOISTE/PELAGE could be R or N or even L; TORTOLA/SELENE could be R.

The Joker 7:46 AM  

That's what Trump says at the start of his rallies.

Capn Charlie 7:56 AM  

Solid puzzle. Very fun and stout and doable like its sposed to be. Randolph Gross is my new favorite

Suzie Q 8:01 AM  

Sex, drugs, and rock n' roll! What's not to like?

As @ Lewis noted, some good word play along with some unusual words.
It turns out that I had a DNF because of an error. I left pelate for
42D because the only pelage I know is ocean related and pelate looked like it might be related to pelt. The perfume clue was no help.
It's OK because I had so much fun skipping through this wide open (pelagic?) grid.

I've never seen hashish spelled like that and calling your pot "tea" sounds like something only a cop would say while trying to sound hip.
I say this with some feeling of authority since I was a hippie chick at one time. Yes, this puzzle was aimed directly toward my demographic.

pabloinnh 8:08 AM  

One of these each-corner-may-be-solved-separately puzzles that I usually dislike, but for some reason found this one OK. Went NW-NE-SW-SE with very few problems. I think I've heard SATSHIVA, but in this part of the world there are few folks who do that. Always good to learn something.

TANLINES brought to mind a recent photo of someone who denies the reality of said photo, thus proving its truth. No fun to think about that one.

Today's coup was remembering LEVERETS, not a word you see every day. If you've been somewhere near Puerto Rico, you know TORTOLA. Spanish pelo, hair, helped with PELAGE, even though the word was new to me. So more learning there.

Thanks for a fun Saturday, RR. Some resistance, but no haymakers thrown, at least at me.

Anonymous 8:17 AM  

Anytime I can solve a Saturday, I'm happy!

QuasiMojo 8:21 AM  

Aside from the fact that Free Love is a 19th-century term, and Hasheesh as spelled seems more of a variant these days, and ADE is only used with a small number of fruit drinks (I mean actual fruits) and Dramedy seems more of a cinematic rather than theater term (to me), and does one PICK Up a Tan Line or even a Tan?, I enjoyed filling out this quirky and yes smutty puzzle. Rex, you left out Head Up and Wild Pig.

Rhino 8:29 AM  


Joe Dipinto 8:32 AM  

I was pretty sure that Rex dislikes Randolph Ross's puzzles and that therefore he would dislike this puzzle. Or, at minimum, damn it with faint praise. I, otoh, enjoyed it and thought it had a lot of interesting fill, some of it new to me. I've never seen HASHEESH spelled thusly; I was also unfamiliar with LEVERETS and REMAX (or RE/MAX, apparently).

"See you then" looks awfully noncommittal without any punctuation; an exclamation point would have helped. (I first interpreted it as "So I guess I'll see you, then...peace out, dude.")

I liked the RED SEA clue, also "Knight mare" for STEED. Overall I'd put it at about the difficulty level I anticipate for a Saturday.

Saturday trivia question:
What famous musical artist is this guy an in-law of?

Okay, that one's easy to look up if you don't already know it. For extra credit: Identify the music being played in this commercial.

Joe Dipinto 8:37 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
GILL I. 8:38 AM  

Well I had TORTUGA. The only thing that saved me was sweet Helios ad her sister SELENE.
As usual, I don't know my names. Bob KEESHAN looks like he's wearing a toupee. Does/did he? I also didn't know CHRISSIE. Those two fouled me up so I moved to the east. Filled in that side with ease because like OFL, I know these old things.
Finally went back to the west coast. I had SUCK DRY and just stared at my empty bottle. I was getting tired so I finally resorted to the Googs for the 3D and the 4D names I couldn't get. It made me mad because everything else was gettable.
Lots of British things going on here. I don't mind. Is Randolph Ross a Brit?
I love Chanel. I've bought Chanel but I've never EVER heard of EGOISTE.'s a man's fragrance. No wonder. My Brit husband doesn't wear cologne so that's my excuse.
I'm happy to see OPIOIDS instead of coronavirus. Well, I'm not happy but you know what I mean. I was at the doctor's office the other day and everyone was wearing a mask. Then I had to go get an X-ray at a clinic and everyone there was wearing a mask. about being cautious. If you coughed and did't cover your mouth, you were hauled off to jail.
No such thing as FREE LOVE. You pay LEVIES for everything...even silly PHONE SEX.

SouthsideJohnny 8:45 AM  

I was able to make some progress, but parsing out the pseudo-words SEISMS, DRAMEDY, INHERED and ACTA just drained out all of the enthusiasm for this one. A crossWORD puzzle should have actual words - you know, things, people places, nouns, verbs, adverbs . . . (and a small percentage of abbreviations). Just stringing together random letters and making up a definition like SEISMS does not pass muster. Worse yet is when the Times makes up a word of convenience and finds an obscure definition in an even more obscure foreign language (which happened not too long ago).

Any idea why 1D is clued as “in a way” - isn’t SIT SHIVA the definition of a mourning period ? Do we really need PHONE SEX in our puzzle - would anyone care to define PHONE SEX for the group ?

Furlongs (an eighth of a mile) are the units of LENGTH of a horse race - although that one may be lawyered into acceptability.

Hungry Mother 8:46 AM  

Long slog to Natick in the SE. Two squares I couldn’t get.

Joe Dipinto 8:49 AM  

Responding to myself: Whoops – Here is the second link. Which is also easy to look up as it turns out.

Hartley70 8:56 AM  

THESMURFS made the puzzle for me. Levity at 8am is very welcome when I’m stuck. I tried to liCKDRY that last drop and wouldn’t give it up so I couldn’t see SITSHIVA. I thought the cluing was excellent. Finally a TEA usage I must be too young to have heard...another reason to thank the constructor.

Frantic Sloth 9:02 AM  

Can’t unsee/un-imagine VEINY SALAMI. Thanks bigly for that, Rex.

Richardf8 9:05 AM  

20d - is it horrible that I looked at this clue and answer and thought “wait, there’s Smurf porn?!?!”

xyz 9:17 AM  

FREE LOVE is like 1930's 1940's used first by THE OLDS in the 1960's and then widely adopted.

kitshef 9:22 AM  

Had a devil of a time getting started. EOCENE, of all things, was my entry.

In each quadrant, things were tough until something cracked it open for me. In order: EOCENE, LEVERETS, RIP TIDES, CHRISSIE.

Enjoyed this overall, but I sure never need to see a row of INHERED CHANTER again.

Schroedinger of the day: lead up or head up? Honorable mention: o-level or a-level?

Anyone else have xxxxIDS at 48A and plop in HIV AIDS?

Anonymous 9:25 AM  

Today I learned that Smurfs are blue. How'd I not know that before? Old guy, no kids, no interest in kid lit.


kitshef 9:33 AM  

@GILL I - The Four Continents Figure Skating Championships were just held in Seoul. If you find some pix or videos from that, every person in the stands wears a mask.

If you are bar trivia, and they ask you how many continents are represented at the Four Continents ... it's five. North America, South America, Asia, Africa and Australia.

kitshef 9:34 AM  

My first guess at the '60s phrase off of the FRE was "freak out".

Anon 9:36 AM  

Exactly Same here. Glad it’s not just me!

Z 9:37 AM  

SHEESH, that EGOISTE/PELAGE G was a WAG that I then convinced myself made sense then turned out to be right. Yay me.

INHERent I know so I gritted my teeth and wrote in INHERED. I also spent many precious nanoseconds pondering whether “duds” were failures or clothes. I knew Bob was going to be Captain Kangaroo but could not remember his name, let alone how to spell it. When I finally discarded “shimmy” as a possibility for bad vibrations because SEISMS gave me UNHEATED the NW finally fell into place. Despite my WAG in the SE, it was the NW that gave me the most trouble.

Pretty much agree with Rex, lots to love paired with lots of the stuff that give crosswords a bad name. That I can put in ESTERS and EOCENE easily is not because I know all that stuff, but because I do crosswords. Is ADE an ending for many fruit names outside of crossworld? And is instantly knowing that the sister of the Greek Sun God was going to be the Moon Goddess a result of deep understanding of myth? Or just that I know SELENE has useful letters? I don’t think any of this is “bad.” But it does pretty much limit this to being a good puzzle, not a great puzzle.

Teedmn 9:38 AM  

@Joe DiPinto, my boss is a first cousin of Peter Himmelman (my boss's brother was in Himmelman's band, Sussman Lawrence (and I own two of Peter's albums)) and was at his wedding. The famous in-law attended, of course. My boss says that a young girl's camera film was confiscated by the security - no unauthorized photos allowed. I always wondered if she ever got any of the photos back. Would they require everyone to check their phones nowadays?

I am not a big fan of Randolph Ross's puzzles because they usually seem dated so my practice of not looking at the constructor's name before solving stood me in good stead today. I really enjoyed this puzzle and thus was not prejudiced against it before starting.

I found this really easy except for the NW and the PELAGE-EGOISTE cross. I was very reluctant to put in that G - who would buy an egotistically named fragrance? But PELAGE seemed the best choice (the PEL part was easy due to PELisse, not because I know the etymology of it).

Like @Gill I, I looked at Rex's pic of Bob KEESHAN and wondered if that PELAGE on his head was real or not - no matter how much money one was paid, surely one would not agree to that haircut, right?

Ah, the NW. I had SUCK DRY crossing CHRISSIE, REDSEA (great clue!) and YDS in there for the longest time but couldn't break the rest of the code. I considered HASHEESH (and like @Suzie Q, didn't like the spelling), VEINY, and ADE. Dismissed ADE because "Mourn, in a way" didn't end in A, in my mind. My co-worker has told me about many a SHIVA call he has made, but it was the last thing in. A breakthrough on KEESHAN cleaned up that whole section in maybe a minute after spending perhaps 10 minutes staring at it.

Randolph Ross, thanks for the challenge!

webwinger 9:41 AM  

Enjoyable Saturday solve in just about average time. Numerous write-overs for answers I really thought would be correct: Buflfalo at 4D for kiddie TV Bob (know that really dates me, but, hey, Bob KEESHAN was also on the Howdy Doody show, as Clarabell the clown); acids for baseless charges at 36A (thought that was very clever when I filled it in, but the right answer is definitely cleverer); corral for gunfight site at 38D; ice for fruit ending at 29A. Was correct with early stabs for EOCENE, SEISMS, and RED SEA (great clue for that one). LADLES for takes stock at 47A recalls an alternative answer to a similar clue from earlier in the week. Also think SELENE was in a clue a few days ago. Mini-theme of Jewish grief and guilt in SIT SHIVA and ATONED? Continuing my Google-less trek, found I knew some things I didn’t know I knew, like CHRISSIE Hynde and TORTOLA. LEVERETS and PELAGE were WOEs, but came through from crosses.

Birchbark 9:43 AM  

A rare Saturday under 10:00, including a stroll to the kitchen to pour a cup of coffee. Probably a record for this type of segmented grid.

Here is a brain teaser: An esteemed Ph.D. professor retires after long and storied career in academia. The university confers an additional title in recognition of the professor's merit. The typesetter, noticing that the new title only has seven letters and ends in vowel, alerts the dean to the error. But the Dean sends a one-word reply: "STET." How could this even be possible? Answer [SPOILER ALERT]: The doctor is the typesetter's mother.

Nancy 9:47 AM  

A terrific puzzle with (mercifully) few proper names or references but very challenging anyway. I spent as much time in the SE as I spent in all other sections combined and my grid is full of erasures. But I corrected everything in time: TAKE ONE to HAVE ONE (34D); TEND TO to HEAD UP (34A); and SNIPED AT to RAILED AT (30D). These errors all fit together beautifully, but what didn't was what I wound up with at 43A, the "test for British students": ALEKEP. (!) So back to the drawing board.

Then in the SE was my absolute conviction that the units in a horse race were EIGHTHS. (Something about the eighth pole, I suppose. Don't ask). That "G" at the bottom of 36D, the "had plateful after plateful" clue, led me to believe that the answer had to be WAS A PIG or WAS A HOG. Again, don't ask.

Finally, there was SPASMS before SEISMS for the "bad vibrations". That one, thanks to UNHEATED, I corrected immediately. Many erasures, a good challenge, and a lot of fun.

Petsounds 9:48 AM  

There are times when I am on such a totally different planet from the constructor that all hope is lost. And today is one of those times. Had SOLDOUT for SRO, ELEVENPM for "desperate hour," and BUFFALO for "Bob of old children's TV." Took me a while to undo those knots.

I was 19 during the Summer of Love, so I've got some hippie cred, and I've never seen "hashish" spelled as it was in the puzzle. Never seen or heard the word INHERED and still can't find it in any dictionary. Naticked out on the HEL/EGOISTE cross and finally just ended with a sad sigh, feeling SUCKED DRY and in need of a bowl of HASHEESH or a nice cup of TEA.

nunya 9:48 AM  


Suzy 9:49 AM  

Nice Sat puzzle. But “inhered” is inherently bad!! Also, ever seen the pipe filler spelled “hasheesh,” not even in Sherlock!

puzzlehoarder 9:59 AM  

A great looking good grid today. Those big white corners had lots of potential. Then I saw the constructors' name and got a sinking sensation. This guy is very old school with a history of putting out square material and today he was in top form.

Between "street protesters", PHONESEX, FREELOVE and the cringe inducing TEA this had the feel of a very dated dad joke attempt to sound edgy.

There was good to be found but a scattering of entries like KEESHAN, LEVERETS and PELAGE were drowned out by a deluge of low grade fill like HAVE ONE, ITSADATE, TODOLIST, OPENTAP, and worst of all ATEATON. You can't make a good puzzle out of that kind of material.

The most damning thing I can say about this puzzle is that it was just too easy. All the above flaws I could overlook if it had just put up a good Saturday level fight but it didn't.

Joe Dipinto 10:10 AM  

@Teedmn – in the early 1990's when I worked at MCA/Universal, Peter H. came up to our offices and did a mini-performance for the staff. There were about ten of us in this small conference room, and he chatted about himself and played a few songs and took questions from us. He was funny and very personable, I liked him a lot.

PhilipArtGlass 10:21 AM

LB 10:27 AM  

I struggled and told my husband: Rex will say it ‘s easy. And the sixties were my era!

mathgent 10:29 AM  

Pleased to have solved it clean after coming up almost empty first time through the clues. Amazing how much help just a few random letters in the grid makes.

Bravo, Mr, Ross! Only four Terrible Threes.

Especially liked NOSEATS for “S.R.O.”

Learned some stuff like LEVERETS, EOCENE, relative size of ALEPPO.

When Nancy thought of “eighths” for horse race units, she was on the right track (Rimshot!). A furlong is an eighth of a mile.

Perry 10:29 AM  

This is the image the "SUCK DRY" should always invoke.

Carola 10:37 AM  

Tough for me, with a few proper-Saturday moments of near despair but engaging all the way, very satisfying to finish. I thought of Joaquin and the "red motorcycle facts" when I filled in EOCENE, HEL, and LEVERET. My way in was SELENE x CHANTER, confirming ACTA. Last in: CHRISSIE x INHERED. One do-over: my "baseless" entities were Acids before AWOLS.

@Amelia and @JC66 from last evening - Thank you for the good wishes!

RooMonster 10:38 AM  

Hey All !
Glad y'all seemed to like it. I had an "Oof" day on this one.
HASHEESH - Oof (who spells it like that?)

Where's @Anoa Bob to see his mind explode at ASSESSES? Wow, a pluraled plural, enabling 5 other plurals!

Neat clue on RED SEA. Also THE SMURFS, AWOLS (even though the plural is kinda janky).

Did like the openness also.


Nancy 10:44 AM  

My nomination for the most perplexing comment of today's blog? @Lewis (6:44) talking about the cross of FREE LOVE and THE SMURFS and saying: "I think we could fit just about the whole world between those two." We could? I wouldn't recognize THE SMURFS if I fell over them, much less know what their approach to FREE LOVE is. Should I assume they're against it? They're strict moralists? Blue churchgoers? (I only know they're "blue" because of the puzzle.) Please explain, Lewis. Thanks so much!

Peter P 10:45 AM  

@Birchbank - I probably just need my coffee, but can you or somebody explain the brain teaser to me? I know what STET means, but I just can't put it all together in my brain and it's frustrating me.

JC66 10:49 AM  


re: the clue for ID "Mourn, in a way"

Yes, everyone who SITsSHIVA is mourning, but not everyone who mourns SITsSHIVA.

Nancy 10:58 AM  

@Peter P (10:45) Here's the answer to @Birchbark's riddle. SPOILER ALERT: Scroll way down everyone who wants the answer; everyone else -- don't look.

EMERITA -- for a woman like the doctor who is the typesetter's mother. Seven letters ending in a vowel. Not EMERITUS for a man. Eight letters ending in an S.

Ernonymous 11:07 AM  

That made me laugh Rex saying Don't Google Smurf Smut!! I never know how I manage to finish these, it takes me hours but I get it done. I knew ALevel but I never heard anyone say it in the singular, so thought it might be wrong when it Was the only thing I had in that corner for a long time. Had TDS and SUCKED OUT so that section gave me some agita. Was shocked to see PHONE SEX, SUCK DRY, VEINY, SALAMI all in the same puzzle. Happy day after VD Day everyone.

Z 11:08 AM  

@Nancy - Maybe watching the theme song will help. But maybe not.

@Peter - I think @Birchbark was just riffing on the old brain teaser and the fact that EMERITus didn’t fit.
A father and son were in a car accident where the father was killed. The ambulance brought the son to the hospital. He needed immediate surgery. In the operating room a doctor came in and looked at the little boy and said I can't operate on him he is my son. Who is the doctor?

SouthsideJohnny 11:17 AM  

Thanks @JC66 - that’s a subtle one, lol. Very appropriate for a Saturday.

I can’t help but wonder if there is a backstory (maybe even an inside joke) to the whole PHONE SEX, SUCK DRY, FREE LOVE, VEINY SALAMI situation - almost like 19A was meant to be SEXISMS. Hopefully tomorrow will bring a fresher take on things.

Lewis 11:20 AM  

@Nancy -- I'm sorry to have been so confusing! Smurfs: the picture of innocence (as I remember from my daughter's obsession with them). Free love: the total opposite. They strike me as SO far apart that the whole word could be fit in the space between them.

Anonymous 11:20 AM  

ALEVELS are hardly used in Scotland, and as many students outside the UK take them than within (they are common in many Commonwealth countries). Describing them as British is a half-truth.

Newboy 11:23 AM  

Today @Z wrote my response at 9:37 in his final paragraph, so ditto that!

Nancy 11:27 AM  

Awww, @Z (11:08), they're so cute. And so blue. They represent Innocence, maybe? Innocence that's the opposite of FREE LOVE? If it's not that, then I don't know what it is. Meanwhile, I must go and brush all the sugar out of my teeth.

Anonymous 11:27 AM  

Security at a wedding?
Young girls interested in Peter Himmelman? That might be even stranger than havibg security.
FWIW, Hank Azaria married a classmate of nine and attentend the reunion w her. There was no security. And Azaria us much bigger than Himmelman.

Tortola shows uo in tomorrow's travrl section. Featured in the feature story in fact.
Gil, the Dry Tortugas are an incredibly worthwhile visit. Home to one of the least visited National Parks, and the US's only nesting colony of masked boobies. Also sooty terns.

Birchbark 11:33 AM  

@Peter P a(10:45), @Nancy (10:58), @Z (11:08) -- Yes, just a bit of absurdity on EMERITA and the olden day cultural assumptions that caused some to be surprised by the old "doctor is a woman" brainteaser. Then I got carried away wanting to develop the typesetter into a major character, which makes no sense. My parents always said it's funny until someone gets hurt -- my apologies for any unintended harm to braincells.

jae 11:33 AM  

NE and SW easy. SE medium-tough because of the PELAGE/EGOISTE cross. NW just tough, partly because I also went with Buffalo Bob for quite a while. I actually watched Howdy Doody, Captain Kangaroo not so much.

I’m not sure how Ross got away with this much “color”, but I liked it. An excellent Saturday.

Anonymous 11:39 AM  

How do you piick up a tan line?

Peter P 11:41 AM  

@Nancy - Thanks. Clearly, I need my coffee as for some reason my brain read it as a seven-letter word with only one vowel, which is at the end. I'm familiar with the car accident puzzler and figured it was somehow riffing on it, but when my brain decides to mis-read the riddle and goes off hunting for a word or abbreviation(s) with 6 consonants and a terminal vowel .... whoops.

Anonymous 11:45 AM  

An excellent Satpuz. Slow to start, warmed up, finished.

So Bob's hairdo. A man wears a toupee but it's sometimes called a wig or a rug. A woman wears a wig but it's never called anything else. Why?

He's probably wearing something up top. And even better, he's not wearing a baseball cap to hide under. I'll be happier when that fad goes away. It took Jack Kennedy to end the "fedora era." What's going to finish off the baseball cap? And the "cool guys" with the cap on backwards?

And face tattoos? Can't those losers spell PERMANENT? SMH


What? 11:48 AM  

You are not alone. But we learned new words which may help in future puzzles or at Mensa meetings.

What? 11:58 AM  

Reminds me of an old riddle.
A father and son are in a car accident. The father died and the son is rushed into surgery. The surgeon takes one look and says I can’t operate, it’s my son.

At a time when women’s place was in the home, this perplexed most everybody.

Need I explain?

jberg 12:00 PM  

@Lewis, yeah, but see @Rex on SURF SMUT. Or don't, to take his advice!

It took several nanoseconds, but I'm so proud of myself for remembering LEVERETS. On the other hand, clotheS before THREADS (though CHRISSIE quickly showed me I was wrong), and I misread the number of the clue so I put in emeritus at 33d before seeing it should be EMERITA at 35D. (I'm trying to convince my optometrist I'm ready for cataract surgery, but she keeps telling me the risk is still greater than the benefits; sometimes I have to take my glasses off and get real close to the paper before I can tell what number it is.)

I looked at 29A and took "ending with" to mean "ending of," so I ruled out ADE for inE. UNHEATED saved me there.

I think PELAGE must have the same root as pelouse, the French word for lawn; anyhow, that's the only way I ot it.

I liked APPEASE crossing ATONES; on the other hand, whatever you think of FREE LOVE it is not a "catch phrase." "Make love, no war," is a catch phrase; so it "Peace!" Free love is a moral belief. If was ever a catchphrase, it would have been from Victoria Woodhull's unsuccessful campaign for president in 1872.

Rastaman Vibration 12:02 PM  

When I stumbled upon SUCKDRY and FREELOVE I suspected that something might be amiss. The real gem in this one is VEINY SALAMI. I wonder why they ran it today - perhaps yesterday was Valentines Day and today is Pornographic Saturday. Crazy stuff today.

Z 12:05 PM  

@Nancy11:27 - Your last sentence both made me laugh and pretty much sums up THE SMURFS. The odd thing was that there was Papa Smurf and a bunch of other Smurf boys (?), but the only female was Smurfette. Debates about Smurfly FREE LOVE were de rigueur in certain circles once upon a time.

How does one pick up TAN LINES? The same way you pick up a cold or a new idea.

Regarding our good Captain, if his Wikipedia pic is to be believed, it would seem that they just styled his hair into that odd mop top. Why that hairstyle made sense in 1955 is beyond me. But he kept for nearly 30 years.

Joe Dipinto 12:14 PM  

@Anon 11:27 – the security at Peter H's wedding was likely connected to the father of the bride.

Anonymous 12:16 PM  

You are so gentle and kind.
There was nothing at all confusing about your smurf/free love juxtaposition.

Masked and Anonymous 12:17 PM  

@RP says EZ. M&A says otherwise.
Becuz of …

* NW: SITSHIVA/INHERED/CHRISSIE crossins. Didn't know those, to the point where after a "desperate hour" of precious nanoseconds, I just bailed and looked up that there Hynde gal. Did know KEESHAN. Primo REDSEA clue.
* NE: TORTOLA/SELENE crossin. Again, just didn't know em. Guessed "R" only cuz it made some sounds I'd heard of before. Did know EOCENE.
* SW: Didn't know ALEVEL and LEVERETS, but was able to eventually suck em dry, from their crossins.
* SE: Didn't know HEL/PELAGE/EGOISTE. Guessed "E" right. Then guessed "T". Wrong again, M&A breath. AWOLS clue was nice and above average sadistic.

Better INHERED clue: {Told via a distant shout that everyone's in the parlour??}.

staff weeject pick, from a pelage-ily slim 4 choices: HEL. Sounds about right, for the solvequest at our house. Am duly impressed, that @RP found this average word length 6.48 dry puppy sucker EZ.

Thanx, Mr. Ross. Amazin 62-word puzgrid. This was sorta like 4 runtpuz desperate word squares, glued together. Try sayin SITSHIVA about ten times real fast, btw. Just sayin.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


Teedmn 12:20 PM  

@Anon 11:27, the security wasn't for Peter but his new in-law, a fellow native Minnesotan who shares a first name with Captain Kangaroo's alter ego. See @Joe DiPinto's 8:32 trivia question.

Matilda 12:29 PM  

I do a lot of crossword puzzles so I encounter “sop” a lot. Don’t ever remember seeing it as a clue before.

Anonymous 12:36 PM  

Dylan is the least assuming superstar Ive ever read about.
Hard to believe he wanted security. But ok.

Anonymous 12:49 PM  

Joe Dipinto,

oldactor 12:50 PM  

Wig joke: (in a yiddish accent)

"Dolling, your hair is gorgeous. Just like a wig!"

"It IS a wig."

"You'd never know it!"

Malsdemare 1:09 PM  

I haven't read the whole blog yet, so perhaps I'm jumping the gun but: Does no one remember "Have a little TEA with Goldie" from Laugh-in? Seriously, being reminded of Goldie Hawn in all her ditziness was worth the pain of total amnesia at PELAGE/EGOISTE.

I'll be back!!

Malsdemare 1:20 PM  

Oops! It was Goldie Hawn or Laugh-In; it was the Smothers Brothers. But still, crazy funny.

I'll go stand in the corner now.

Malsdemare 1:21 PM  

Well, Damn. It WASN'T Goldie or Laugh-in. Someone shoot me now.

Flinque 1:38 PM  

SE was the hardest location pour moi

Anonymous 1:44 PM  

i guess this old commercial didn't stay in your heads like it did mine

GILL I. 2:04 PM  

@oldactor.....Ay chihuahua. That made me laugh. Wish we had sound - a - vision!
@Mals. I think we got what you meant. It's still funny!

Joe Dipinto 2:04 PM  

@Anon 1:44 – actually, it did. :-)

CDilly52 2:10 PM  

First of all, I always mistake TORTugA for TORTOLA. Having visited the beautiful island, I remember that it’s name derives from its shape: that of a tortoise and TORTugA is Spanish for tortoise. And that stayed for a while perpetuating holes. Then INHERED. New word for me, love it! I look forward to Saturday especially to learn a new word or two.

Next, I am a child of “that era.” Started uni in 1970, lived through the anguish of Kent State, placed my share of flowers in the muzzles of M-16s in Champaign-Urbana. Also fought with my sibs who wanted to watch Captain Kangaroo before school and I preferred The Today Show. I remember the Captain well, though. As well as Mr. Moose, the Banana Man, Mr. Green Jeans and of course Bunny Rabbit

That brings me to my next learning moment: hares and rabbits are vastly different! So, when I tried to fit kittens in where LEVERETS needed to go, ta-da another new word. Thankfully the other ”acrosses” were easy and LEVIES was such a typical “Rossean” misdirect.

Can’t say whether it is my advanced age that made this so enjoyable or not but it helped. As did the crosswordese because all those golden oldies helped with some of the more clever wordplay spots. However, overall I enjoyed this puzzle. Good word play but I admit I feared that SMURFS was in fact going to have something to do with smut given the FREE LOVE and general 60s-ness of the puzz. Happy to have THE SMURFS instead! My daughter acquired the nickname “Smurf” in junior high school and it stuck to this good day. To her closest friends, of course my husband and I became “Mama and Papa Smurf.” Alas, that stuck too.

Quicker than usual for me but a definite tussle in spots. I approached the “four small puzzle” grid with trepidation because those grids with almost no “connective tissue” are typically my downfall. Thank you Mr. Ross for just enough help. Enjoyed it. And now I have to return to my weekend of “discovery he’ll:”. . this part of trial work is just such a drag! Off to the office 😢

Ernonymous 2:34 PM  

@anonymous God no, glad I forgot about that one. Brutal.

Ernonymous 3:12 PM  

@what Or else if a red motorcycle ever pulls up besides us and asks.

Anonymous 3:30 PM  

@OFL said: 'smoking cigarettes and watching Captain K-angaroo'

from here:
"Smokin' cigarettes and watchin' Captain Kangaroo
Now don't tell me I've nothin' to do"

the amusing thing is I never listen to C&W, and only heard it on my R&R stations. and, while an odd glyph, OFL is more correct on the enunciation; or Kaa Angaroo.

these days, of course, it's 500 channels and nothing to watch.

Richardf8 3:35 PM  

“ Try sayin SITSHIVA about ten times real fast, btw.”

Or you could teach a bunch of restless 6th graders about the practice and get to the same place rather more quickly than you might like.

Nancy 4:39 PM  

@CDilly52 (2:10) -- I've always had a weakness for courtroom dramas -- in novels, in movies, on stage. I thought I knew most of the terminology. But as you race off to do your real-life lawyering can you spare a moment to tell me what "discovery he'll" is? I know what "discovery" is but "discovery he'll"??? Is that a typo? Or is it a Thing? If it is, it's probably a term that real lawyers as opposed to make-believe lawyers use. Yes?

albatross shell 4:42 PM  

If you accept the opinion that there is no such thing as free love (as someone did here), you then might claim that the free love crowd and the smurfs are equally innocent, although differently so.

Took me awhile to fill in HASHEESH. I have seen it spelled that way rarely, but pronounced that way often.

DNF this bizarre and un-greyladylike puzzle, but very much enjoyed it for both those attributes.

Malsdemare 5:22 PM  

@nancy. I have a lot of nerve doing this but in case @cdilly doesn't get back to you, I think @cdilly meant discovery hell. Discovery is that part of a trial in which the prosecution turns over to the defense their evidence. I believe—and I'm basing this entirely on legal thrillers—that prosecutors play games with this requirement. We can hope Cdilly will correct my errors.

Given my penchant for mistakes today, I've probably got that entirely wrong.

TexanPenny 5:27 PM  

I guess it was “easy.” I managed to finish it without help in less than my average Saturday time. It didn’t *feel* easy, though ...

TexanPenny 5:31 PM  

Lots of countries count North and South America as one continent.

Northwest Runner 5:44 PM  

I'll chime in. This is one of the hardest NYT I've faced down in a while, almost thought I was headed for DNF. In between lasso instead of ladle and overate, the odds instead of lengths, clothes instead of threads, and ate a lot instead of ate a ton, not to mention ignorance of Norse mythology and Lord of the Flies plot elements. And who spells hashish like that?

The fact that I finished at all made it satisfying.

Ian H 6:14 PM  

Totally brutal doing this after doing the New Yorker’s weekend puzzle. LEVERETS?!? Barf.

newspaperguy 7:31 PM  

Come here hoping to see Loren Muse Smith's always interesting and amusing comments, and couldn't resist glancing at the train wreck blog. Great puzzle, but the little one complains about answers from the past. Given that the present is nothing but a concept and everything we know happened in the past, I say grow the fuck up.

sanfranman59 7:54 PM  

I used to work in addiction research and I'm here to tell you that OPIOIDS have been a "health menace" for much longer than just the 21st-century. What's changed and has made it into a headline issue these days is that they're affecting rich white people. When heroin and other opiates were only killing poor, mostly black- and brown-skinned people, there was less urgency because their plight was written off as attributable to a weakness of character.

Anonymous 8:02 PM  

you go @sanfranman59!!!! truer words were never spoken. BTW, my childhood idols, "The Limeliters" got their start there that year. a loooong time ago.

Michael 8:04 PM  

Better than average but not great. As someone said, feels dated (we are young by this groups demographics), and partitioned without a lot of cross solve. Relying on odd spellings where I'd rather see word play.

Want to unsee VEINY SALAMI, eesh.

Bruce Fieggen 8:31 PM  

Emerita is the female equivalent of emeritus.
Take on the old puzzle of the old surgeon who won’t operate on the father and son in a car accident because ‘He’s my son’.

CDilly52 9:12 PM  

LOL!! @Namcy. “Discovery Hell” not “he’ll.” The typeface on my phone is so small and I am awaiting retina surgery so even though I try to proof, I missed a big one. Blame it on auto-correct. I’m sure you get it now. Discovery on a short deadline without enough help is Discovery Hell!! And for me double hell because I have to read 700-1,000 emails and their attachments electronically to avoid killing an entire forest. Then I need to see which ones go with which interrogatory or only with a request for production, and have to save them in different folders and electronically number each page. All the while, I am missing my crack team of baby lawyers, legal assistants and the best secretary in America, I swear. The only time I miss large firm practice and would prefer it to my otherwise excellent job advising 24 elected officials in county government is during discovery. Sorry for the typo!!

CDilly52 9:15 PM  

@Malsdemare. Thank you! See my reply to @Nancy. I’m taking a break to check I’m all the interesting chat here today. This blog is my happy place! Thanks for the help! Back to hell.

Stan Wagon 10:33 PM  

Rex points out the various sex-related items but missed Leveret. I lived in Leverett, Mass., for many years and so learned that a leveret, which does mean a small rabbit, was also used in days of yore to refer to a mistress.

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thefogman 11:36 AM  

Definitely not easy for me. Got naticked at the crossing ACTA and TORTOLA. Went with ACcA/cORTOLA on a wing and a prayer- and crashed. Didn’t like this one much. The clueing was a touch too obtuse and mean. Not much fun and designed to defeat - not delight - the solver..

spacecraft 11:54 AM  

He's gone and done it again: "Easy?" Not chez Space. Hard enough to garner triumph points by the...should I make a scale? Nah. Just ATON. Hopped on my trusty STEED, inhaled some ESTERS, and went from there to the NE via REMAX/PHONESEX. Had to guess at the TORTO_A/SE_ENE Natick, but rightly chose the L. It seemed to take forever to work out THESMURFS, but things improved--slightly--from there.

In the SE, LENGTHS helped, along with the granddaddy of all crutches (8 letters!) ASSESSES. This corner cost our constructor an eagle. SW's EMERITA fooled me only for a moment, recalling that old chestnut about the surgeon and [her] son.

And now the NW. Again. Made the near-fatal mistake of tDS instead of YDS, the lone inkblot today. Couldn't make sense of 1a, naturally. Then the veil lifted, I put in the Y, and finished SITSHIVA on 100% crosses.

Not much choice for DOD this time, so CHRISSY it is--but not Hynde. "Three's Company" star Suzanne Sommers was CHRISSY on that show, and wears today's sash. HAVEONE FREELOVE, Randy: birdie!

Burma Shave 1:43 PM  


PHONESEX, and WILD ardor,


BS2 1:56 PM  

I swear, folks, I never, ever read @Rex's comments before composing a verse. So any similarities, whether real or imagined, are purely coincidental.

rondo 2:19 PM  

Shoulda gone through the down clues first for all the gimmes like CHRISSIE (yeah baby) Hynde, Bob KEESHAN, SELENE, etc. As it is, I got going at 30a REMAX and spread out from there. Seems to me HASHEESH shoulda had 'var.' in the clue as the spelling to me is with an I instead of the EE.

Biggest slow down was having WarthoG where WILDPIG belonged; seemed right to me.

I try to avoid having TANLINES, but do not avoid sunshine.

The 4 corners get us NESS today. The loch or the lawman.

If there's an OPENTAP at the SALOON, I'll HAVEONE. Tough puz. Quite good.

leftcoaster 3:05 PM  

Lots of the tough, vague, unknown -- a Saturday puzzle.

NW left almost totally blank until googling there and elsewhere helped fill it all in.

Not happy, but not blaming the puzzle.

Diana, LIW 5:02 PM  

I'm less up on perfumes than I am on the periodic table. so....

Even after some gross cheating, I had one square left blank. The news is going to SUCKDRY our collective sense of humor soon.

Diana, LIW

Anonymous 6:13 PM  

For me - and I see for a few others - yesterday and today were not easy. Got Chrissie and riptides right away and then the rest was ugly. I knew Bob was going to be Captain Kangaroo but could not remember his last name if I ever knew it at all anyway.
Completely agree with Rondo on Hashish/Hasheesh. Spell Check agrees also. And agreed on Chrissie H.

If I can indulge you in a story - Riptides reminded me of eons ago during Spring Break at the beach in Carmel-By-The-Sea when a swimmer was struggling in one. No one noticed him until he was able to swim out of it and get back to shore. As I recall he was purple and shivering almost uncontrollably. But he was young and fit and snapped out of it without assistance. Even in the middle of summer water there is below 60 F.

rainforest 6:36 PM  

I managed to finish this fine puzzle in two sittings. This morning, the SW and NE came pretty quickly, and then I was stuck in the NW. I had read NHL instead of NFL for 8D and was baffled. But then, relief came in the form of a broken sewer pipe in the basement of my apartment building. All hands on deck; cleaning out of storage lockers; moving cars onto the street; major scene but I got to socialize, even during social distancing due to the Covid-19 regulations; forgot about the puzzle.

Later, this afternoon, I remembered the puz, and saw the NFL error and was able to get the NW. SIT SHIVA was somewhere in my brain, and that helped, along with Bob KEESHAN. INHERED makes sense, but not a word I'll ever use. With that done, I sorted out the HEL, PELAGE, EGOISTE section by the clever use of guessing.

Nice-looking grid, some great clues, and except for HASHEESH, excellent fill.

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