Imagist poet Doolittle / SAT 2-22-20 / Unstable subatomic particle / Creature with eyespots on its wings

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Constructor: Trenton Charlson

Relative difficulty: Easy (4:28)

THEME: none

Word of the Day: HILDA Doolittle (36A: Imagist poet Doolittle) —
Hilda Doolittle (September 10, 1886 – September 27, 1961) was an American poet, novelist, and memoirist, associated with the early 20th century avant-garde Imagist group of poets, including Ezra Pound and Richard Aldington. She published under the pen name H.D. (wikipedia)
• • •

So mad right now because I have absolutely heard of "H.D." but had no idea those initials stood for HILDA Doolittle. Really truly deceptive, to the point of being borderline inaccurate, to say that the poet was anything but "H.D." She published under the name "H.D." Gah! Can't decide if this is a knowing-too-much or knowing-too-little problem. Anyway, it stinks. Still, I can't complain about difficulty very much, since HILDA / CPA provided literally the only difficulty in this whole solve. I somehow knew / "knew" MCCAIN (1A: Senator who wrote "Faith of My Fathers"); it was the first thing that came to mind and I tested it and bingo bango! Five of the six crosses immediately checked out, and CZARINAS followed shortly thereafter. Hard to overestimate how important getting 1-Across is on any day, but today it felt *particularly* fortuitous. With "-ZIC-" in place, QUIZZICAL LOOKS was a gimme. Wrote in QUOTATION MARKS without ever even looking at the clue—that is the kind of solve I was having. I typo'd PAGE GOY for Prince Valiant's haircut, which was the only real mistake I made. I guess the puzzle thinks it's being cute with all the "Q"s... honestly, I don't qare. The grid seems fine, overall, but the puzzle itself was way way way too easy. HOP UP, that was weird. I wanted PEP UP, which would also have been weird. I've heard of someone's being "hopped up on goofballs," but HOP UP as a phrase meaning simply "energize," that's definitely out-of-the-language for me. But nothing else was.

I had CPU for CPA because ... just because. I didn't know why the clue was winking at me (29D: No. brain?). Like, was it flirting with me? Did it have something in its eye? I just didn't get it. The CPU is the computer's "brain," so I just went with that, but then it seemed very unlikely that an imagist poet would be named HINDU Doolittle (which is where that first name was headed), so I tore out that "U" and then the rightness of CPA finally asserted itself to me. I just read about ARSÈNE Lupin and Sherlock Holmes in Alan Moore / Kevin O'Neill's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (which I'm in the middle of), so that clue felt like it was made special for me (59A: "___ Lupin Versus Herlock Sholmes" (1910 story collection)). It's not that I knew all the answers, it's that the answers I got caused other answers to topple by giving me enough letters in the right places to make educated guesses. Felt like watching dominoes fall rather than pushing a boulder up a hill. Exhilarating, in a way, but also sad, because I feel like I barely saw this. Do NOMADs TRAIPSE? Really? Not a very I would've associated with them. BAH. Have a nice day.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Joaquin 12:09 AM  

The only times I have ever heard the word PARLEY[S] used it was followed by “vous français?” (Yes, I know. No need to post the “French Correction”.)

The IO MOTH is, apparently fairly common. Maybe that’s why I know it only by its nickname, “moth”.

And finally, just because you have been old enough for almost 3/4 of your life to drink FROZEN DAIQUIRIs doesn’t mean you spell it right on the first try.

jae 12:27 AM  

Bottom half easy, top half easy-medium? Tried margarita before DAIQUIRI, tsAR before CZAR, and torah before QURAN, which pushed this one more towards medium territory.

The scrabbly stuff worked for me, liked it a bunch.

Alex M 2:23 AM  

Pretty shocked Rex rated this Easy, for me it was the most challenging Saturday in recent memory. Couldn't get a toehold anywhere, had to look up every proper noun I came across just to have a jumping off point. Big oof.

D L 5:55 AM  

I doubt Rex reads these comments, but I would love for him to post a video of him cold-solving and narrating a puzzle. This felt like a breezyish Saturday for me too, but at a little over 3x Rex's time I just can't begin to fathom how this gets done in 4:28.

Anonymous 6:34 AM  

56D: IQs are not test subjects, they are test scores or results.

albatross shell 7:02 AM  

My experience often opposite of Rex's today. Doolittle? Who? Wait. Rings a bell. Down. 4 letters. Nothing. Oh its across 5 letters. HILDA, instantly. But did not remember H.D. until reading Rex.

And none of the long crosses came instantly. A couple of the downs did. But mostly very hard. Had to resort to google way too often.

I liked the Q's and Z's. I was going to trash the puzzle for not having the Z's distributed in the across answers like the Q's are but my sarcasm font was disabled. The alternative spelling of Koran buggers me every time. I know it just doesn't occur to me quickly. Maybe next time, as I said last time.

LES PAUL is always a plus. Bow down,bow down. Scaggs pretty good too.

Recommend the constructor's notes again.

Puzzle was tough on me, but very nicely done. Good Saturday fare.

I thought Rex's review was the worst of the week because he was so happy to have everything in quickly, that he gave the puzzle no thought at all. Are we to interpret his limited complaints as a rave? I guess.

Lewis 7:03 AM  

This turned out to be a pleasurable no-nonsense get-down-to-earth solve, with weekend bite yet no hair tearing, a most worthwhile journey, and thank you for your efforts, Trenton. Knowing your Scrabbly penchant helped, by the way.

Four double letters in the first two rows put me, your resident alphadoppeltotter, on alert, but the puzzle ends up with a medium-high but not unusually high count. Points for the pair of triple-vowels.

On a side note, seeing those four Qs showing up in the longs made me think of Ma Nishtana.

albatross shell 7:08 AM  

I bought a pressed IO MOTH at a church thrift sale. Set of 8 different ones, including a Luna.

My first try was daquari. Who knew?

Jon Alexander 7:09 AM  

With Rex on this one...I just tore through this puzzle (half my average Saturday solve according to the app). Only hiccup was when I got to my last square in the SE...Had IO_OTH (never heard of Iomoth) with the down being _ITE. I put in a B given the down clue (small amount) as in “I just ate a bite” and figure “Yeah sure, IOBOTH”. I guess in retrospect the “wings” aspect of the creature should have lead me to think more “animally” in the name (as in MOTH). Granted I only hear the term MITE really ever applied to the bug, but it made sense after I got the dreaded “there is an error in your puzzle” notice, so I popped in the M to the lively sound of the “well done” music.

For me, QUIZZICALLOOK and DENOFINIQUITY are the winners of the puzzle. Just imagine a nun getting a former after walking into the latter

John 7:15 AM  

Not easy for me. Not in my wheelhouse. I struggled mightily with the top half.

Hungry Mother 7:16 AM  

Very, very fast on a day when I have plenty of time for a long slog. Maybe my next puzzle in SoCal will while away the hours.

Z 7:19 AM  

Had the same arched eyebrow over the TRAIPSE clue as Rex. I’m starting my latest short story. A NOMAD and his BABE, HILDA, TRAIPSE into a DEN OF INIQUITY and order FROZEN DAIQUIRIs. Boz SCAGGS singing SKA will be playing on the juke box. A MOA chasing a pewit chasing an IO MOTH figures prominently in the plot. The walls will be painted green, of course

If we pretty much never see koRAN in the puzzle anymore why can’t we stick to tsARINAS?

ROTI instead of naan? Must be Saturday.

BEAPAL just looks odd in the grid.

GILL I. 7:28 AM  

A TRAIPSE is also a slovenly woman. My new avatar is me after cleaning the pig pen. Are you giving me a QUIZZICALLOOK?
Yeah, this was pretty easy as Saturdays go. Like @jae, I wanted her to be Tsarina. Can Czechoslovakia be spelled with a T?
Didn't know HILDA because I'm not into poetry. Kept wandering into Wyeth and his Helga's World for some strange reason.
I don't really PARLEY, I prefer to discuss. But that's just me.
Are there still DENs OF INIQUITY? I'm thinking our friend @JOHN X would call it a whorehouse.
So Prince Valiant invented the PAGE BOY? I thought it was George Harrison.
Speaking of FROZEN DAIQUIRI, @Quasi from yesterday....I'm afraid it's true. Throw a bunch of stuff in a blender, add some vinegar and call it Gazpacho (sigh)....Some things should never change - even if it tastes good. Give it another name for crepes sake. Tomatoes, please.

Z 7:36 AM  

@anon6:34 - That’s a common cluing trick. You have to look at it a little differently. What is the subject of the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales, the Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Cognitive Abilities, and the Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children? IQS.

@DL - Here you go. That’s almost a decade old, now. There might be some of him solving on a computer that you can find. There are definitely some videos of the truly fast solvers (Rex is second tier in the speed solving world) available.

pabloinnh 7:39 AM  

Did you know that the K from SKA instantly gives you LOCKEDIN for "100% guaranteed"? It does, but is singularly unhelpful. Also, DON for AIR will monkey wrench your lower long acrosses for quite a while. Good thing I can spell DAQUIRI. In Quebec, ROTI on a menu means "toast", so that never leaps to mind for some other kind of bread. Also, Boz SCAGGS spells, his name wrong, it should clearly have a K, which it does not. Otherwise good fun, except having ALLOO_ up top for the longest time had me looking for some kind of balloon.

Just enough thinking required to make this a very fun Saturday, for which many thanks, Mr. C.

amyyanni 7:45 AM  

Loved it. My mom used the word, usually as a warning to be on time so she didn't have to traipse all around looking for me. Some of the clues seemed easy for Saturday. Omitting Senator in the McCain clue and Boz in the Scaggs clue would have been more challenging. And then maybe I'd be complaining! Happy Saturdays.

Carola 8:06 AM  

Would you like a Q in your A? Especially when a FROZEN DAIQUIRI leads to a DEN OF INIQUITY? I thought the puzzle was a lot of fun, but awfully easy for a Saturday: MCCAIN x MUON went right in, and the rest unrolled seamlessly from there. I liked Prince Valiant's hair style crossing ROYALLY.
One do-over: (Get) "To it" before HILDA made me change it to THIS.

Joe Dipinto 8:13 AM  

This was great. Vast improvement over yesterday's, in terms of interesting fill (I refuse to say it's "sparkling"; Swarovski crystals sparkle, puzzles don't.)

But that clue for BE A PAL is illustrative of the wtf-ness of the cluing sometimes. Who would ask for "little help here" without the "a" in front? No one, but since "a" is in the answer it was lopped off the clue. Doesn't sound natural? Doesn't matter. Not important.

Anyway, a nice Saturday challenge overall. Just tough enough. @Lewis, you got me curious about Ma Nishtana so I looked it up. Cool stuff to learn on a Saturday.

Lots of playlist choices today. We got 50s retro-swing, we got 70s disco-funk, to get you moving. Or, if you have insomnia, there's this snoozefest written by 28a. Getting sleepy now...

Paul Emil 8:16 AM  

You are one letter off It's PARLEZ VOUS....

Suzie Q 8:27 AM  

I got my kick-start in the SE because of the odd little menagerie there. All in all a fun solve. It was a good mix of the known and unknown but all gettable. Bravo Trenton.

MichGirl 8:28 AM  

Me, too! McCain had me feeling good and then....just a big mess of trying to wrangle it.

ghkozen 8:41 AM  

While there isn’t a single accepted system for transliterating the Arabic alphabet to Latin alphabet, Quran is spelled with the Arabic letter ق, which is usually transliterated to a q, and not with a ك, which is usually a k. So “Quran” is probably the better choice.

QuasiMojo 8:52 AM  

This was a fun solve and for me easier than usual. I think that's because of the Q's. The U's become gimmes.

I had to look up "traipse" because I tend to use it when describing someone prancing or skipping but the first definition I found said "to move wearily, to tramp or trudge" so that works with Nomad.

My only bugaboo with the puzzle is that the clue for Czarinas seems misleading to me. We've had this clue before. As far as I can tell there has never been a sovereign who was a Tsarina. A sovereign, I think, refers to the absolute ruler, as in the case of Queen Elizabeth II or Victoria for that matter. The Czarinas in Russia were the wives of sovereigns. Yes, Catherine the Great became sovereign over Russia but she was called Empress. Not Tsarina. I'm no expert in these matters. There were tsarinas in Bulgaria and Serbia too. But a quick glance at Wikipedia indicates none of them were the "sovereign."

As for Hilda. I knew that because I have recently been reading her amazing poetry. What an astonishing intellect she had and a mind-boggling way with words. I don't understand all of it but it's fascinating nonetheless.

Teedmn 9:02 AM  

Ha, @Joaquin, you got your "French Correction" (nice one!) anyway.

Perhaps I will start pronouncing 57A DAY-kwer-ee - it may gain me some QUIZZICAL LOOKs but it could aid me in remembering that first I. And yes, that the misspelling lent itself completely to "don" fitting at 55D, which was of no help. The DEN OF INIQUITY saved me; is that ironic?

PARLEYS - this reminds me of my high school boyfriend who belonged to the FFA (Future Farmers of America for those of you with a non-rural upbringing) and he was always going OFF TO practice PARLEY, short for Parliamentary Procedure. His chapter was good enough to go to state at least.

This was an average Saturday solve for me. It went fairly smoothly once I got my foothold at APPLIQUE, but it took a while to get there. I had a secondary hitch once I wormed my way back up the grid. I had the A of 24A, POlE of 18A and NO___ at 30A and nothing above it. But a sudden vision of starlings sitting on roofs making those weird whirring sounds brought MYNA to mind and that was all it took. I had never seen a starling until I moved to the city. As with our English sparrow friends, they seem to prefer the company of people rather than to forage for themselves off the land.

Trenton, nice Saturday, thanks.

Suzie Q 9:06 AM  

Hey, I just noticed Rex's photo of H.D. Isn't that a page boy do?

TJS 9:16 AM  

Spelling Emory with two "E"s made IO ETH unguessable. Otherwise a good Saturday workout for me. Feels like Rex phoned in his review today. I guess his delight in knowing H.D. took too much out of him. If a test reveals a measure of I.Q., then that's the subject of the test, no? But I thought there would be a discussion of the relative merits of IQ tests and no one seems to care today. Me either.

Birchbark 9:18 AM  

QUIZZICAL LOOK is perfect. It was almost the last to fall today, crossed with alternate spelled QURAN and CZARINAS. It was how I looked for a long time trying to crack the northwest. @Rex's point about 1A's importance is confirmed today, but from the opposite direction -- MCCAIN was the last answer for me. Challenging/rewarding.

The DIPOLE antenna was first to fall. As a lad with novice ham radio license and cover-to-cover grasp of the Amateur Radio Handbook, I wanted one. Instead we went with a basic "T" style antenna: just climb as high as you can up a pine tree on one end of the yard and run a thick wire over to a tall pine tree on the other end of the yard, with insulators on either end. Then drop a wire down, run it into the house to the Heathkit radio shack in the basement behind the furnace. (Be sure to ground the antenna if you are trying this at home.) Then just tap out your morse code "CQs" and next thing you know, you're conversing about the weather with a retiree in Redondo Beach, CA at over five words per minute.

Then an ice storm comes through one night a year or so later, you wake up, look out the family-room window, and there's your T-style antenna sagged so far to the ground that it's a neighborhood talking point. You'd like to tell your dad this wouldn't have happened with a DIPOLE, but his heart as always in the right place and we figure we learned a valuable lesson of some sort, details to be determined. Once the ice melts and it's safe to take the down, you do. Things were changing, and it never went back up.

Anonymous 9:23 AM  

Congratulations. Your incessant whining seems to have made the Times stop using the National Rifle Association as a clue for NRA. I feel a lot safer now.

Nora 9:25 AM  

Apparently everyone here knew Arsene. Any other great foreign language fiction from 110 years ago I should start reading? Preferably ranked at least 155,000th in Amazon's current sales listing for fiction?

kitshef 9:44 AM  

Sure as heck fire not easy for me. A weeks’ worth of overwrites today. That bottom left section in particular is a hot mess.
aspEr – NAMED
toRAh – koRAN – QURAN
sal – NCO
hOKkaido – TOKYO BAY
ioTa – bITE – MITE
fernS – REEDS
banKablE – RISK FREE
sandy – HILDA
lair – ISLE
onIt – THIS

Sir Hillary 9:50 AM  

I found this oddly boring. The fact that each long across contained a Q did nothing for me. I guess I need to learn what an IOMOTH is and what DIPOLES are, but they were certainly easy to place in the grid. The only ARSENE I know is Wenger; he never managed SANTOS.

burtonkd 9:55 AM  

Very funny, Nora: it feels that way sometimes. I didn't know Arsene either, but it probably didn't come up because all the crosses are gettable.

I had no idea that MYNA was related to the starling. I associate a myna with its ability to mimic speech and other sounds, such as here:

@Teedman, the starlings in NYC are an invasive species brought from England to Central Park so all the birds from the works of Shakespeare could be represented in the Shakespeare Gardens section. They failed to get the memo that they should stay there and not crowd out native songbirds.

I associate PARLEYS with mobster movies, synonymous with a sitdown.

I had the opposite experience and time result from Rex: pecked around at small answers until the long ones fell in a late swoop.

@Joe, I glad to know your Scaggs snoozefest wasn't "Dirty Lowdown". It's just 2 chords (except for occasional B section), but I'm a sucker for that groove and mood.

TRAMP before NOMAD kept the Mid-Atlantic section from falling into place.

Using TESLA to clue SERB was rather devilish as there are so many more associations with the car and inventor that spring to mind.

Is IZOD just for men???

Interesting clue for AZT: the year was enough, although it did bring back memories of a very difficult era for the arts scene in NYC.

RooMonster 10:00 AM  

Hey All !
Well, Rex says 4 minutes and change, Super Easy. I say BAH! This was a toughie for me. I'm impressed by those of you who can solve this without help. I used Check Puzzle feature unabashedly and with no remorse. :-)

Never would've gotten IOMOTH. What the what? How does a slug go BAM? Are we talking the slang of slug to mean a bullet? I was trying to write the squishy-slurpy sound a creature slug makes. But, they move so slow, you really don't hear them. ROTI? How many freakin' Indian flatbreads are there? And can they be more than four letters? MOA. Ow-a. Had ROK there forever.

YOU IN was in, then out, then in. Same with SKA. Wanted aUON for MUON, so MCCAIN was very tough to see. AZT rings a faint bell in the ole brain, but not sure what it is.

So, I had a ROYALLY messed up solve, which would've been a Great Big DNF had Check Puzzle never been invented. I secure enough in my tiny-knowledge-brain to tell y'all the stuff I don't know. I did get OLMOS and SCAGGS right off, so apparently my mind is filled with Movies, Music, TV stuff, not "cultured" stuff, like Books, Theater, Operas, etc. Hey, to each their own.

Five F's

Nancy 10:02 AM  

If only I had a memory like everyone else. Two slam-dunk answers in this (for me, but maybe not for you) bear of a puzzle where I struggled, like almost forever, to find a toehold. MCCAIN's memoir was somewhere in the depths of my unconscious -- too deep to reach. So was TOPSY. I wanted a "T" girl, because I was pretty sure it was ANTED at 13D, but all I could think of were "E" girls -- as in Little EVA and ELIZA. With the two answers that wouldn't come to me, who knows, maybe I would have whizzed through this puzzle instead of being as slow as a too-thick and over-FROZEN DAIQUIRI.

And this puzzle also explains in a nutshell why I'm not a speed solver. So, I'm looking for a toehold, I'm desperate for a toehold and, yes, I know to tell myself: Go down!!!!!! Go right!!!!! Go somewhere else, anywhere other than where you are right now!!!!!!! And still I miss it. There was the slam-dunk HOSNI and my eyes kept missing him for at least 15 minutes. Likewise, the slam-dunk PAGEBOY. My eyes are almost commanded to follow the route that the crosses dictate. They refuse to find a wholly different pattern. And that's why I'm not, nor will ever be, a speed solver.

I found this close to unsolvable -- much of it my own fault -- but I did solve it with no cheating. So there's that. I enjoyed the challenge in a masochistic sort of way.

kitshef 10:08 AM  

@Joe D - you also have:
Studied metaphysical
Science in the home.

puzzlehoarder 10:11 AM  

A very easy Saturday. It wasn't just the high value letters that did it. The puzzle was just over all easy. While yesterday's puzzle had some TESTEES this one had no BOLLS.

A very clean nice looking puzzle but no Saturday resistance.

Newboy 10:15 AM  

Well said @Nora! The crosses were fair to be fair, but wow that seems pretty obscure. Final entry today was MCCAIN for which I am totally embarrassed. Sometimes an answer is known, but irretrievable (like spelling DAIQUIRI) while others ( today’s DIPOLES & LES PAUL) HOP UP without any logical personal history as @Birchbark above noted. Not “easy” for this solver, but random answers stitched together like an APPLIQUÉ quilt filled the gaping grid after the usual Saturday struggling. Thankfully all those QU combos provided guidance. A delightful way to start the morning, so thanks Trenton—gotta check xwordinfo to see how your project came to be 🤙🏼

SouthsideJohnny 10:16 AM  

Some of the PPP was pretty “out there” today - OLMOS, TOPSY, HILDA, ARSENE - that’s tough, even for a Saturday.

I’m guessing others struggled with APPLIQUE and IOMOTH, as I did.

I don’t get the clue for QUIZZICAL LOOK - you could put the word “perhaps“ after pretty much any location, what is special (if anything) about “at sea” ?

Just an FYI - “100% Guaranteed” is not RISK FREE - as there is always Counterparty Risk. However, close enough for a crossword puzzle.

Still puzzled by the “at sea” cluing though.

BobL 10:22 AM  

Its been a week of great puzzles!

Newboy 10:35 AM  

@Southside “ Still puzzled by the “at sea” cluing though.” think confused as often clued for being mentally adrift

Peter P 10:48 AM  

This one finished in average time for me, but felt a lot easier. IO MOTH, which I didn't know, I quickly figured out from the downs. I knew it was some kind of MOTH, and YOUIN and APPLIQUE fell in quickly to finish off the missing two letters (it helped that I went through a quilting phase years ago so was familiar with the term.)

HILDA Doolittle I know from English lit class. Not entirely sure how I remember her full name, but it was somewhere in the recesses of my cranium, so we must have talked about it. Oh, wait, I think it was from the Norton Anthology of Poetry that I remember her full name. Yep, she's listed as "H.D. [HILDA DOOLITTLE]". ARSENE is another one that filled itself in from the easy downs.

To be honest, I'm not sure where the chokepoints were for me in this puzzle, but it was just average time, so I guess thinking about each clue added up, because it didn't feel like a difficult puzzle at all.

Whatsername 10:52 AM  

Well since I finished this much more easily than I normally do a Saturday crossword, I can say with all honesty that I really liked it. It was an enjoyable solving experience. Some new things like PARLEY and IOMOTH and some nice misdirects made it interesting. I do have a tiny quibble about the clue for 35D. APPLIQUÉ is certainly a quilting technique but not necessarily one used with patch patterns. Patches are generally cut in small square or rectangular shapes and pieced together to form a design. Appliqué is usually used for a distinct pattern design in which case you probably would not be using scraps.

Count me among probably quite a few who misspelled DAIQUIRI the first time, tried two Rs and no I which did not work of course. I hate when Walmart rearranges their merchandise and I have to TRAIPSE all over the store to find what I want. Absolutely love the FDR quote and I’m going to remember it. One thing was absolutely for certain, I knew the answer was not going to be DJT.

JC66 10:54 AM  

@D L

I solve in AcrossLite and today it took me about 4X @Rex's. @D L, your comment made me curious, so I went to the NYT site to see how long it would take me to complete and, FWIW, it took 4:23, 5 seconds less than @Rex.

Hey @Roo

If you think of slug as a verb, you get BAM.

webwinger 11:05 AM  

Proudly solved this in about average time without googling, but hooboy, no way would I call it easy. Didn’t recognize MCCAIN at 1A. Did recognize CZARINAS at 3D fairly early, but of course entered it first with the much more xwordy initial ts, which added greatly to my struggle in the NW. Finally got straightened out when with a number of crosses filled in I realized the person at sea was not literally on the water, but merely befuddled (a situation that only seems to show up in crosswords).

I was able to drag both H. D. and her full name from deep memory recesses, but no idea on 59A—I confused Lupin with Poe’s sleuth Dupin, whose first name I couldn’t recall (it’s Auguste), and needed every cross to get ARSENE.

Final crisis was in the SE, where I took the automotive option on Tesla at 41A, thinking e-car at first, then after BOLLS went in remembered there was a Tesla Model S, and confidently wrote in S-car. Rot seemed perfect for 44D. Eventually corrected after I concluded 51A had to be some kind of MOTH, leading to aha! re the SERB inventor.

Overall an enjoyable Saturday wrestling match.

Amelia 11:12 AM  

Way too easy for a Saturday. I had the same problems with the moth that some of you had. (Bah) And yeah, I put in Nesmith before Les Paul even though I KNEW it was his mother. But the rest was easy.


Did you ever wonder what the HD stood for, Rex? How did you know it was a woman? I have to tell you that Hilda was my first gimme. Imagist poet Dolittle. Cmon. There's only one poet (that I know of) with that surname. Yea, I was an English major, and yea, I read, like in books. He knew. He knows. He's showing us that he knows who the poet is, because he's got books with her initials in them. He's just playing at being cranky.

Amelia RECO of the day. If you're in or around the NYC area, run to the Whitney for their VIDA AMERICANA show. A spectacular exhibit of Mexican muralists and how they influenced American artists. Read the review in the NY Times in which you did Friday's puzzle.


Dr. Doolittle 11:13 AM  

It's an Io Moth, two separate words.

Joe Dipinto 11:14 AM  

@burtonkd – Hey boy, I better bring you around to the sad, sad truth that – I love the dirty "Lowdown" too!

@kitshef – Maxwell–of course! I'd never have thought of that.

gruffed 11:24 AM  

I felt really smart having finished this puzzle without Googling in 33 minutes; count on Rex (4:33) to deflate your ego. Nevertheless, I bet I had more fun solving this than he did racing the clock!

Birchbark 11:32 AM  

Two nice descriptions above about the experience of randomness when solving challenging puzzles. @Nancy's (10:02) humorous quest for a toehold is right on point, as is @Newboy's (10:15) satisfaction with the APPLIQUE at the end of the solve.

Anonymous 11:44 AM  

Rex isn't just cranky but wrong.
Ask David McKnight. He's one of the word's foremost schooars on poets. Ezra Pound especially. Doolittle was part of Pound's ambit, along w William Carlos Williams and even Mariane Moore.
They all met at or through Penn.
I've heard hom refer to Doolittle as Hilda many times.
Anyway, hurrah for Hilda, Ezra and of course the Red and the Blue.

Solverinserbia 11:47 AM  

Easy!? My time was 47:04. My longest ever for a solve. (average time 20 min for Saturday.) How can a puzzle with ARSENE, HILDA, IOMOTH, BOLLS, SCAGGS, PAGEBOY, NRA, etc etc be easy. I thought this was dang near impossible. I still don't know how I did it

Chip Hilton 12:01 PM  

@Sir Hillary - Alternate clue: Ex-head of The Arsenal? (Capitalized T intentional)

Fun one! That initial k when corrected to QURAN led to a Rex-like sprint across the top half of the puzzle. The bottom half had been a slower go as I got hung up on a frozen mojito, thinking there was a Q in there somewhere (APPLIQUÉ had fallen earlier).

Pretty Saturday here in CT. Not tempted in the least to TRAIPSE off to a DENOF . . . well, you know.

What? 12:01 PM  

Not easy or fast but solved most of it. CPU gave me HILDU, ok since I’ve seen stranger names in these here parts.
Visited Wikipedia to remind me how to spell DAIQUIRI. Along the way, got a list of cocktails, some of which should appear in Saturday puzzles just for sadistic fun.

Gio 12:03 PM  

I did well with about 85% of this then I was stuck, stuck, stuck. I had spelled it TSARINA and I had QURAN and this gave me QU_S and I was not sure about the AZT yet. With those letters I figured it had to be QUEST something and I had the LLOOK at the end. I thought of Inquisitive Look (I think heard more often that Quizzical Look...), which didn't work and thus took me away from that train of thought. This top section took forever until I changed the spelling to CZARINA. Once I had that Z in Czarina I also got CITED and that led to MCCAIN and AZT and NCO. It was a big rush to get all that finally filled in! That is the Crossword Runner's High they talk about! I hate these clues for NCO. I knew it was some 3 letter common crossword initials but I was not sure which one. There are so damn many.
The next big problem was I knew that they wanted the other Indian flatbread, that wasn't NAAN but I could not remember what it was- I saw it once before but forgot to write it down. I also knew they wanted the other giant extinct bird that is not an EMU but I could not remember that word either. The Not-EMU Not-NAAN were Not-Known. It didn't help having IOMOTH there and EMORY. That cross could be easy for experienced Xword people like Rex where MOA and ROTI are just popped in. I've added them to my list and writing about it here, I'll never forget them. I finally checked the answer key to get that part as it would not have come to me in a million years. I guess you call that a natick.

What? 12:04 PM  

Rex - PAGE GOY? What is that, a non-Jewish haircut?

JC66 12:08 PM  


I think it;'s a typu. ;-)

Frantic Sloth 12:09 PM  

I like the word “traipse” for reasons passing understanding, but there it is.

Also had trouble with the clueing of BEAPAL. In my world, “little help here” does indeed scream for an “a” as @Joe D already said.

But more to my point is that that phrase itself indicates someone is in dire-ish need of immediate assistance with something = can’t hold up this piano alone/can’t carry this safe by myself/toting 12 bags of groceries and the bags are tearing and everybody is just sitting around staring at their phones and “A LITTLE HELP HERE!!”
And don’t forget the inevitable wise-ass who asks “hey, got a light? Heh heh heh.”

My happy place today was BOZSCAGGS. Absolutely could not go by a dorm room without hearing his music playing. Yes, I was in college in the 70s - what of it?

PHV 12:11 PM  

CPA? It's a peeve of mine, but what does a CPA have to know about numbers? Addition and subtraction, and percent. A "No. brain" should at least be an actuary.

jb129 12:13 PM  

Easier than most Saturdays & a pleasure after a tough, unsatisfying week (you know who you are!)

jberg 12:20 PM  

Drat, drat, drat! I never decoded the "No. brain" clue -- I was thinking maybe some kind of eeg reading thing -- so I went with SkAGGS/kPA. (something per Angstrom? I dunno). So either DNF or Fw/E, depending on your personal taste.

I really enjoyed the puzzle, all the same, despite the sad absence of Xs. Beautiful long answers, and pretty decent medium-length ones.

@Quasi, I had the same thought about Catherine the Great, so I looked her up. As far as I can tell, CZARINA is simply Russian for Empress (and she was the 4th female sovereign, to my surprise!)

Never read H.D., but I have to say, I have never seen her referred to in print except as "H.D. (Hilda Doolittle)." That was enough from me; guess I should try reading her, based on comments today.

I've seen plenty of MYNAs in Hawai'i and Australia, in both of which they are invasive exotics; I've always spelled in MYNAh, but apparently that's acceptable but not preferred, so I've learned something today.

Whatsername 12:20 PM  

@What? (12:01): Don’t forget SEX ON THE BEACH. I’m not certain but that may have actually appeared in a NYT crossroad once, either as a clue or an answer.

Gio 12:22 PM  

@frantic I agree about the A little HELP HERE clue. On first pass through th e puzzle I wrote IM HURT! I was thinking something awful had happened to our pal. Thank goodness he was just being dramatic, as usual.

Malsdemare 12:22 PM  

@roo, kitshef, nancy et al., I was in your sinking boat, struggling mightily to find anything that would stop my brain from . . .oh never mind. That metaphor ain't going nowhere. Whatever, Doc Google and reveal answer were heavily used today. I hit all the low spots: naan, don, SkAGGS, koran. I had topES for takes the high way, misspelled DAIQUIRI, thought it was PARLaYS, and on and on. It was not pretty.

So it wasn't easy for me but those long answers were gorgeous and made me smile when I finally got them.

estraumanis 12:30 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Malsdemare 12:38 PM  

@what? I have a recipe handwritten by my upper class, straight-laced Mother called Skip and Go Naked. I don't do cocktails, but I should probably try that one.

I forgot to mention that if I'd had the sense to change that K to Q in Quron, which was my first entry, I may have found this lots easier. But I got stuck in the mud there, as well as with Uncle Tom's cabin girl eliza. I could not for the life of me move my brain off of obama for 1A even though I KNEW it was wrong; said brain just sat there perseverating like mad. Oy!

What WAS cool is that I knew everything in this puzzle except HILDA and ARSENE, which I would have gotten from crosses, had I been able to reboot my brain. I'm headed out for a hike with my pulling machine Ryeley. Maybe if I'd done that instead of spinning my wheels, I'd have seen the puzzle with fresh eyes.

Sigh . . .

estraumanis 12:42 PM  

Alright I can admit my mistake. It is Boz SCAGGS. My face is red. Ricky Skaggs is featured in this months Vintage Guitar mag. Oops. Both great musicians...

Casimir 12:42 PM  

A couple of people have complained about the clue "little help" lacking an "a". Where I grew up (upper Hudson Valley) if you were playing some form of ballgame -- baseball,basketball, tennis, etc. -- and the ball went far astray toward other people, you would yell "little help" (without "a") and the other folks would immediately turn and look for a ball. So, for me, very straightforward and evocative clue!

Nicholas Conrad 12:50 PM  

I'm pretty new to solving, and completing a Saturday is still a challenge for me, so maybe there's a convention here I'm not familiar with yet. BABE gave me a lot of trouble, since the clue "sweets" is plural, I thought the answer must always also be plural. Nobody else in the comments seems perturbed by this clue though....

QuasiMojo 12:55 PM  

@jberg, her title was "Imperatritsa" -- Empress. I don't see her listed as Czarina/Tsarina except when she was the wife of Peter III whom she overthrew. She wasn't the sovereign then. Of course I'm being nitpicky. But that's half the fun. (For me, at least.)

albatross shell 12:57 PM  

Actually I personally prefer the Q version, but crosswords and general usage I grew up with has accustomed me to the K. I have no knowledge of which should be preferred.

GHarris 1:00 PM  

I tend to use auto check when solving late week puzzles. What amazes me is the courage that confers. I fearlessly enter answers I otherwise would not dare and, voila, they prove correct so that I rarely need to overwrite. Yeah, I know that is a cheat but it doesn’t detract from my overall enjoyment.

Alexandra M 1:08 PM  

Considering the deliberate tricky clueing all over this puzzle I believe we're meant to take it as "subject of some tests?"

Rastaman Vibration 1:21 PM  

It was always “L’il Help!” for me too - baseball, basketball, tennis - anytime you heard that phrase you look for a ball and kick it, swat it, roll it back from whence it came.

@Nicholas. Yes, you are correct that the verb tenses, and singular vs. plural will almost always be consistent in the clue and answer. In this instance, some people call their SO things like honey, sweetie, or even sweets which could be considered singular.

The clue for IQS on the other hand, never should have seen the light of day. It really is surprising (and disappointing) how many errors get overlooked by the editors at the New York Times. IQ’s are a test score, not a subject. Science and math are subjects, IQ scores are not.

The clue for TRAIPSE also seems a little “off” (but defendable). Nomad Implies a sense of wandering, while TRAIPSE connotes a trek to a destination (i.e. I had to TRAIPSE from one end of the airport to the other yesterday).

Lewis 1:52 PM  

@Nicholas Conrad -- "Sweets" here is name of endearment, like "hon", and "darling", rather than a plural noun. When you see a term like this as a clue, usually it's looking for another such term as an answer, as it did today, with the answer BABE. It also served as a misdirect, making solvers think it had to do with candies and such.

ccredux 1:53 PM  

What counts and what doesn’t count in computing solving time? I agree with D L.

Joe Dipinto 2:00 PM  

@Casimir & @Rastaman Vibration – never heard "little help" in a game context, so fair enough. But to me BE A PAL is something you say when you want a not insignificant favor from a friend, not just tossing a ball back on the court. But ymmv, I suppose.

Ragu 2:01 PM  

@Alexandra suggested an interesting interpretation re the IQS situation. If that is what they are going for, it seems as though the clue should at least have a question mark. If so, that’s one of those clues that you can lawyer into acceptability in CrossWorld even though it is pretty much meaningless in every day jargon.

It’s interesting that a fairly high percentage of people are familiar with the ARSENE Lupin and HILDA Doolittle entries (interesting, but not surprising since we have a group of Saturday-level solvers posting today).

I’m guessing the lack of “slop” in the fill is due to the fact that there are no theme entries constraining the constructor’s alternatives, which was the topic of some discussion this past week. It would be interesting to see what a Thursday or Sunday-level puzzle might look like without the theme requirement (or cut down on the number and length of the theme entries?). I think Rex and others have suggested that a title for the puzzle would help in that regard as well.

beam aims north 2:09 PM  

That's how we're spelling "Koran," now, eh? Also I could swear it was Boz Skaggs, with a K. Or maybe it's a Q.

pabloinnh 2:42 PM  

@Casimir & @Rastaman Vibration (and hi @JoeD)- I've heard "little help here" in a sports-related situation, which is where I thought you were going with your comments. I've heard "little help here" lots of times, usually when I'm seated in the back of a pickup truck between games during a softball tournament, and it ALWAYS means "I need a beer. ".

Rug Crazy 3:13 PM  

I hate it when I trudge through a puzzle, barely finish without help and Rex calls it "easy".

LeaveItToYourGoat 3:15 PM  

Some serious WTFs for me on this one - MYNA, MUON, ROTI, AZT, IOMOTH, DIPOLES, APPLIQUE, ARSENE - all gave me a headache. Others - TOPSY, MITE, HOP UP, BABE, FDR, HOW - seemed to have needlessly difficult clues. I mean seriously, who says "hop up" to mean energize? It's "hype up." I've never seen CZARINA, only tsarina, but maybe that's just me. I groaned at AAA and III in the same puzzle.

QUIZZICAL LOOK / QUOTATION MARKS and FROZEN DAIQUIRI / DEN OF INIQUITY, on the other hand, look beautiful on top of each other. Although I forgot about the first I in "daiquiri," so that one took me far too long to figure out. Also I was way too confident in my spelling of PARLaY, so that kept me from seeing FOR SHAME until I sussed out some of the crosses.

Finally, can we please stop using "New Deal org." to clue NRA? Does WS just not want to acknowledge the existence of the *other* NRA? You know, the one that still exists and people actually know about?

Joe Dipinto 3:19 PM  

@pablo – lol

Gio 4:04 PM  

@leaveItToyourGoat Since February 4th 2019, NRA has been in the puzzle 14 times. 11 times as clued as the Gun Group and 3 Times as the New Deal so it's a stretch to say WS doesn't want to acknowledge the Gun group.

kitshef 4:11 PM  

Hand up for getting through almost the entire puzzle before seeing gimme HOSNI (Hi, @Nancy). I made that very comment about my solve over at

Anonymous 4:15 PM  

All of the New Deal (alphabet soup) agencies should be put into deep freeze and be permanently shelved as a matter of common sense - yes, Rex will freak out because some people still believe that a well regulated Militia is necessary to the security of a free State, and as such, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Ditto for the use of Roman Numerals with absurd clues like “mid-twelve century year”.

Casimir 4:18 PM  

For an "a"-less use of the phrase "little help," I believe the opening scene of the timeless Bill Murray classic "Stripes" has a basketball going out the window of an urban apartment. Murray yells said phrase to some kids on the street.

Come to think of it, had he shouted "be a pal," it would have fit well, though perhaps not quite as funny.

Why do I remember 30 year old, silly movies better than what I saw last month!

Sunnyvale Solver 4:34 PM  

The OLMOS/TOPSY crossing was a natick for me.

Also I wrote in DAQUIRI instead of DAIQUIRI, and was stuck with a blank space until I fixed it. Three I’s in daiquiri - who knew?

Surprised Rex didn’t link to a Boz Scaggs video...

Birchbark 4:40 PM  

For those who think hard Ks and hard Cs sound alike -- each is of course fine in their own right (cf. @estraumanis (12:42)), but honestly:

Little Ricky SkAGGS:


Anonymous 5:49 PM  

Without knowing 1A right away, the top half was tough. Plus, as others have posted, the alternate spellings of KORAN and TSARINA caused me to slow down. Hilda Doolittle was a real Natick for me. But I'm happy I finished with no help whatsoever. Rex is just bragging. (Note, on days when he struggles, he often gives just an estimated time. Hmmmmm)

Z 6:43 PM  

Fascinating comments today.

Re: QURAN v koRAN, There are lots of dialects. I think the Q version more closely parallels the sound of college educated Arabic speakers in formal settings. But I think the K version isn’t as wrong as say, “Peking.”

Re: Whoever was impressed by everyone knowing HILDA and ARSENE, I knew neither. For HILDA I think I had the -LDA in place and HILDA was the only name that came to mind. It worked. Yay me. ARSENE I got totally from crosses. The only ARSENE I know is the former Arsenal coach, that being enough for me not to fret over it.

@Amelia - I took that whole HD/HILDA riff as an extended D’Oh moment. I know I’ve been in the position of finally seeing that the answer should have been easy for me.

Subject today. Prayer yesterday. Let’s discuss the multi-layered misdirection of “Sweets.” Plural candy? Nope, a singular term of endearment. Sometimes a verb is turned into a noun or an adjective or maybe the opposite. On Friday and Saturday the simple clue likely needs to be reimagined. My advice, don’t look for how a clue is wrong. That way leads to frustration. Look for how the clue works. Language is nearly infinitely malleable and crossword cluers make use of this fact to trip us solvers up.

TJS 9:22 PM  

@Nancy, I loved the honesty of your solving experience, maybe because I followed the same route. First time I have ever been thrilled to find "Hosni". I almost nailed this thing, but I loved your comment.

jberg 12:09 PM  

@Rex used to use what he called the Spoiler Kitty -- a picture of a cat leaping out at you that was big enough to fill up the rest of the screen. That way it was up to you to scroll past it or not.

@Quasi -- just saw your response from yesterday. Thanks! I poked around in Wikipedia, but only in a few cases did they give the Russian words for things. I enjoyed it anyway-- especially learning about the Empress Elizabeth, whom I had never heard of before.

rondo 10:43 AM  

It becomes more and more apparent that none of the brainiacs commenting above have ever turned a wrench in their lives. That's really a sad commentary about their ability to be self-reliant. I guess a country boy really will survive. As for me, I'm going OFFTO HOPUP my plain Jane '57 Chevy NOMAD and make a real BURNER of a street rod out of it. The rest of you can shelter-in-place with QUIZZICALLOOKs on your faces. Truly sad.

26 minutes of total enjoyment. Time to spin some Boz SCAGGS. (Lido Shuffle may have been his worst -but most popular- song ever, that's what pop culture can do.)

rondo 10:46 AM  

BTW - I still miss evil doug.

Burma Shave 11:33 AM  


where CZARINA HILDA just MITE condone,


spacecraft 12:46 PM  

I got this done sooner than average for the day, but it still didn't feel "easy." There was a lot of stuff you had to know, and I felt lucky to have known ARSENE, HOSNI, APPLIQUE, etc. I could well imagine people going--as I often have done myself--"Wha?? EASY???"

Get out your Scrabble calculators; you might need a CPA to tot up your score today. The only reason I care is that it can put a mighty strain on the fill, though this time I think it was pulled off rather well. If puzzles were peanut butter, this one would definitely NOT be "creamy."

In the absence of a real BABE to crown DOD, I'll go to the one CZARINA I can recall: Katherine the Great. Birdie.

leftcoaster 3:19 PM  

Yes, *relatively* easy for Saturday.

Helped along especially by the six QUs, but also by the ZZs, CCs, FFs, etc., etc. Somehow, the doubled-ups tended to expose a number of answers. Probably because the puzzle itself was pretty accessible.

Spent most time in the SE: ROTI (had naan first, of course), DAIQUIRI (sp.), MOA, and IOMOTH held things up for a bit.

Enjoyed it.

Anonymous 3:43 PM  

It should have been clued: Ms Arthur's ally.

rainforest 3:57 PM  

I haven't commented for awhile, but I decided to say something today. The last 3 puzzles have been great to good, and I've finished them all. I particularly liked Thursday's with its double rebus. Thought it was the great one.

Today's was one of those that just fell into place, but not quickly. Call it medium, I guess. Took too long to change tsARINAS to the variant spelling, and so MCCAIN, which I initially thought might be the Senator, had to wait. Other than that, it was very interesting and enjoyable how my first thoughts turned out to be correct after getting a few crosses. IO MOTH, FROZEN DAIQUIRI, REEDS and TRAIPSE are examples.

Though easier than the usual Saturday puzzle, I found it very well constructed with good fill and clues.

leftcoaster 6:11 PM  

Surprise clue: "Herlock Sholmes" spoonerism. Registered it just now.

Diana, LIW 8:12 PM  

got most but not all of this

I've had a bit on my mind...

will be traveling tomorrow (by plane!) so keep your eyes crossed for me, if not your words.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting to be really home tomorrow

Anonymous 3:23 PM  

Excellent idea do

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