Fit for a sweater / SAT 3-7-20 / Character who steals from the dragon Smaug / Gray with 3x platinum album On How Life Is

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Constructor: Robyn Weintraub

Relative difficulty: Easy to Easy-Medium (on paper, untimed)

THEME: none

Word of the Day: SYD Hoff (9D: Cartoonist Hoff) —
Syd Hoff (September 4, 1912 – May 12, 2004) was an American cartoonist and children's book author, best known for his classic early reader Danny and the Dinosaur. His cartoons appeared in a multitude of genres, including advertising commissions for such companies as Eveready Batteries, Jell-O, OK Used Cars, S.O.S Pads, Rambler, Ralston Cereal, and more. (wikipedia)
• • •

Hello there. Or should I say, Jello there. Man, that answer ... I had _ELLOSHO_S entered into the grid and still N comma O idea what the hell that "word" could be. I guess the actual real problem there was that I also had _RS entered into the grid at 49D: What Joe Biden and Al Gore are: Abbr. and had N comma O idea what the hell *that* "word" could be. Invisible "J"s are the worst! But here's the thing—often, when I struggle to get an answer, and then I do finally get it, the feeling in my heart sounds something like this: pfffffeajeiweaweaewtffffffft. But this time, when I put in that "T", stared at _ELLOSHOTS, and finally *got* it ... well, I definitely slumped and felt bad about myself for a few seconds, but immediately thereafter, I had to admit, that was a good one. You got me, and you got me fair and square. That clue was definitely FAIR GAME (12D: OK to target)—the JRS. clue, too (how did I not know Joe Biden was "Jr."!?). I had a similar but slightly less traumatic experience trying to parse PAPER AIRPLANE (33A: It might go over some students' heads). I had __PERAIR__A__ and my brain kept trying to make the first bit "SUPER-" and that obviously wasn't working. I could tell the clue was trying to be cute with me, but I couldn't figure out in what way. What goes over some students' heads? HARD LESSONS? SCHOOL ROOFS? GRADUATION CAPS? But as with JELLO SHOTS, when I finally got PAPER AIRLINE, I started to "booooo!" but then stopped and thought "you're booing the ump for a call that you know is actually good. Just stop." So I just muttered "well played" and moved on. My main point with this opening paragraph is that I don't resent toughness when it's well and fairly and entertainingly executed. I kind of like it. Please remember this the next time I'm angry at some tough portion of a puzzle—I'm mad at the badness, not the toughness (though if there's badness, toughness *definitely* makes things ... worse somehow).

This was a good puzzle, which is what I always expect from Robyn Weintraub, who (like Zhouqin Burnikel earlier this week) is one of my favorite names to see in a byline. I should add that Caitlin Reid is quickly becoming one of those names as well (yesterday's puzzle was the best of the week—thanks to Rachel Fabi for filling in for me on short notice). But back to this puzzle: the center stack is perfectly smooth, the colloquialisms sprinkled throughout the grid are bright and fun and very much in-the-language ("WHERE WERE WE...?" "ASK ANYONE!"), and the shorter stuff stayed largely inoffensive. It just held things together. It did its job. I would not have clued CSA that way, nor would I clue CSA that way ever again. First, I would try not to have CSA in my grid at all, and then, if I had to, I would clue it as the kind of CSA that sells produce at the farmers market. In fact, if you google CSA, the Confederate States of America (ugh) doesn't even come up on the first page of hits, but Community-Supported Agriculture sure does. CSA is like the NRA—just don't, and if you have to, don't write clues that point to the bad guys. Three cheers for Community-Sponsored Agriculture and the National Recovery Administration! Well, two cheers, at least. One cheer? A golf clap? Whatever, just keep awful groups out of the grid.

I think that if I were slotting puzzles for the near future, I might reconsider all my infectious disease-related cluing. I winced at AGUE (14A: Fit for a sweater) and again at E-COLI (42D: Recurrent health scare)—while the latter has nothing to do with the current worldwide health scare, its clue inadvertently evokes it (specifically, the "health scare" part). I'm neither mad nor offended, these are fine words and clues under normal circumstances. I'm just recognizing that the clues play a little differently in the hot middle of an epidemic than they do otherwise. By the way, I hope you all are safe and washing your hands frequently and not touching your face so much and practicing some kind of low-level social distancing (esp. if you're over 60), but most of all I hope you are not terribly afraid. I think we have more to fear from each other than we do from this virus. Take care of yourselves, look out for the vulnerable, be kind. I appreciate you all.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


MarineO6 6:31 AM  

Very fun puzzle, thanks Robyn!
As usual, Rexie flips out over anything he deems non-PC,
CSA is a part of history, as are Nazis, Communists, Jesus Christ, Charlemagne, etc.
Please do not change your clues and answers to suit a small, ignorant minority of solvers.
The puzzle was great!

Lewis 7:12 AM  

This puzzle fought me so hard I felt like I needed armor, but I fought right back, determined and steadfast, and it was clash and bash and feint and smash, with my persistence finally winning out, but my swole pride at the end was equalled if not eclipsed by my respect for this superbly worthy opponent.

OMG I loved this puzzle, in which the solve was punctuated by laughs and exclamations of discovery. What I loved most was the wicked cluing, the play and wit in the clues for FEET, AGUE, PAW, SESAME SEED, SYN, and TWO.

This was fulfillment and entertainment by a remarkable talent. Thank you so much for this, Robyn!

Z 7:19 AM  

Pretty much what Rex said, without being as thrown by PAPER AIRPLANE and JELLO SHOTS. MAGMA helped me remember MACY and we were off to a good start. I went with chiPS before WRAPS (is there really any less bread in a wrap than a slice? My suspicion is that there’s actually more in a single WRAP than in two slices of bread). MOTHER HEN has been replaced by “helicopter parent” in modern parlance, so that wasted at least three precious nanoseconds. Only other slowdowns were HAVE NO clue and briefly thinking a small cardinal could be a Tit. When PAPER AIRPLANE wasn’t immediately obvious I did the SW corner, got PAPER from the crosses and sussed it out. Likewise with LLOS in place. Got the JRS easily and it was clearly going to be a MOTHER HENless party.

Anonymous 7:23 AM  

I have to agree with Marine06. Both that this was a good puzzle and about the PCness. Was watching a “Sex in the City” rerun last night with my Berkeley student, vegan daughter and her friend when, OMG, a “me likey” spewed out relating to a pair of shoes. Nothing. There’s more outrage after a “got milk” spot. I asked several Asian friends of mine about the atrocity of last week’s faux pas. Crickets. Similar non-outrage from the people from Wales on failure to pay up or the folks at Ricoh when you ask for a Xerox copy. So much to be upset about nowadays. Perspective, perspective.

QuasiMojo 7:28 AM  

I went with VPs for the JRs misdirect and threw in Vodka Shots. That held me up a few minutes. I've never done a Jello Shot. Sounds disgusting. You got to give credit to a puzzle that makes you sing the lyrics to The Copa out loud just to answer a clue. Congrats to Robyn Weintraub for a challenging but engaging Saturday puzzle. @Nancy, I left a late comment yesterday in response to your poetry remarks.

BobL 7:44 AM  

Lotsa clever stuff here. Fun.

Suzie Q 7:54 AM  

Very fun puzzle with tons of trickiness.
Three grids this week have had "one-up" in either the clues or answers. We also discussed Goofy and Pluto recently and here he is again. I really appreciated needing to be cautious at every turn because there were traps everywhere.
Rex, if you are going to cry about NRA and CSA offending you how can you ignore disrespecting our veterans by posting a video with MIA?

Anonymous 7:58 AM  

Did you talk to your several imaginary Asian friends before you started avoiding them because of the coronavirus?

pabloinnh 8:02 AM  

Looking for a random toehold led to ELIE which begat EBOLA, finally sussed out MINX but forgot to change the B which made FISHTACOS invisible for almost ever. Similar situation with ODE finally becoming ADO which took care of that corner. Phew. Also skipped poor BILBO forever, which would have been a gimme.

Thought this was a Saturday with just the right amount of crunch, mostly due to the devious clues. Thanks for lots of fun, RW, and I think your new title should be Ms. Direction.

TJS 8:08 AM  

A 13 and a half minute Saturday, and I dont try to rush or time myself. That is a major letdown. Give me something that makes me go to work, not just fill in the blanks. I usually have a high opinion of Ms. Weintraub also, but "holey" "agood" "ene" "jrs" "syn", "ccs" crossing "cnet" and "seas" ?
Some nice longs but way too much desperation, in my opinion.
There is a pay phone in O'Hare Airport. One. It works.

Anonymous 8:12 AM  

This one was easy here. Faster than Thursday and Friday and just a few seconds slower than Wednesday. Lots to like including the three long ones in the middle. Also, agree with Marine06. Constructors and editors, if you’re reading, please don’t bowdlerize your puzzles for the sake of a tiny minority of whiners. It really does weaken the quality of the puzzles. Thanks

Pepper 8:15 AM  

Why do I even come to the comments section, when I know it will be splattered with boomer outrage at Rex’s reasonable objections

Birchbark 8:18 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Birchbark 8:26 AM  

FISH TACOS and JELLO SHOTS -- Peter Brady's Humphrey-Bogart impression of "Pork chops and applesauce." And a breakfast test if there ever was one.

MAGMA fell right away and set the tone for the solve, supporting a 1D corollary to the @Rex view of 1A as a predictive model for the overall solution. This down corollary may be more evident late in the week, when motor skills aren't as important to solving time.

CODA -- I liked the non-misdirect (redirect, retrodirect) answer to 42A "End notes," "obit" being the conventional match to the clue. Also the traditional misdirect of GOT A minute --> GOT A SECOND.

Brian 8:44 AM  

A clean Saturday solve with fun cluing. Felt well-balanced to me.

MR. Cheese 9:00 AM  

This set a record for the number of times I said, “wow, what a clever clue!”.

Z 9:28 AM  

@TJS - I was just through ORD and didn’t notice, which raises two questions; Where? and Why do you know this factoid?

@Pepper - Hey! Not all boomers.*

@Birchbark - Ah, the Saturday “not a misdirect” misdirect. More than once I’ve not written in an obvious answer because it was obvious only to have it be obviously correct. Self-inflicted nanosecond wasting is the worst. As for FISH TACOS and JELLO SHOTS for a breakfast test, I vaguely remember a time where that would have seemed perfectly reasonable. So does my stomach.

*I fully expect this to be a PAPER AIRPLANE for lots of people.

xyz 9:29 AM  

PAPER PLANE is a fine cocktail, one said to be equal parts, but go light on the lemon juice to make a really good one

Typically "equal parts", shaken and double strained
Whiskey I prefer Rye to Bourbon)
Lemon Juice (go easy here)
Amaro Nonino

This puzzle was good and relatively easy, this cocktail is great and very easy.

Nancy 9:31 AM  

Terrific puzzle. The clues were wonderfully misleading, but completely fair. And it was one of the 3-letter answers that gave me the most trouble: "Small cardinal". I was pretty sure it wasn't the religious guy in red, so I thought it must be the bird. I had the "T" and wrote in TIT -- though truth to tell, I had always thought they were very different birds from cardinals.

Turns out they are. Turns out the answer is TWO. What a fiendish clue! And for a long time I was loused up in the SWEPT ASHORE, SPOTLIGHTS section.

I don't know what a CASE SENSITIVE password is. Does it simply mean specific to a specific website? (I write down all my passwords in my analog address book: under "Y" for Yahoo; under "G" for Google, and so forth. (Is my NYT password under "N" or "T"? If I can't remember that -- and I can't -- I certainly can't remember my password.)

CASE SENSITIVE is very 21st century. On the other hand, PAPER AIRPLANE seems extremely 20th-century. Are kids still doing that? Aren't they too busy playing with their gadgets under the desk?

I loved this puzzle, Robyn! And that makes two terrific themelesses in a row.

r.alphbunker 9:37 AM  

{Typical stocking stuffers} FEET, hah! Loved the puzzle. Details are here here.

Petsounds 9:37 AM  

It's always a good feeling to get the 1A immediately on a Saturday puzzle, and I was pleased to see the fabulous Macy Gray used as a clue. But then we moved on to AGUE. I have a vAGUE memory of mention of the condition in Victorian novels but not a clue as to its characteristics. So the "sweater" angle was never going to help me out. With just one impossible down clue, that would have been a quick trip to Nattick, for sure.

Had a lot of fun with this one, even though Robyn gave me just enough rope to hang myself on several clues. Confidently wrote in GOTAMINUTE on 20A, for example. And PAPERAIRPLANE took me a loooong time. But, as Rex said, my issues were all mine, not the constructor's.

It's sunny outside for a change here in the great Great Lakes, this was an enjoyable exercise, and all's right with the world. Off to try Rachel's puzzle at David Steinberg's Universal page.

Newboy 9:44 AM  

Bravo! Spent half the solve time on T?O before remembering pretty basic math....wonderful misdirection. Nice triple stack to bind the top & bottom and only a few ISAO, ELIE, & EWEs entries to whine about. Grand way to start this weekend of pre-March Madness . Thanks Robyn.

Glenn Patton 9:47 AM  

Robyn Weintraub says, on the other crossword blog,that her original clue for CAR was related to Community Supported Agriculture. Guess that means that the editors are responsible for the Civil War reference.

Anonymous 9:50 AM  

No more free speech for racists and sexists. Don’t even think those thoughts. No CSA or NRA in crossword puzzles. Step aside boomer.

Joe Dipinto 9:52 AM  

I find myself getting irritated with all the colloquialisms that populate the puzzle more and more. Today we get GOT A SECOND? and ASK ANYONE! and WHERE WERE WE...?

Add in the disembodied phrases like HAS NO IDEA, SWEPT ASHORE, A GOOD, CUT TO, NOT IN. Too much of the puzzle is no longer just basic *words*, imo.

Anyway, I didn't particularly care for this one.

Anybody got 40¢?

Anonymous 9:58 AM  

@Z, you forgot to add sniff sniff at the end.

Anonymous 10:05 AM  

While some clues are acceptable and ambiguous, some seem to be completely wrong. Such as 51 Across. Rebar is not a “structure”. These small problems are what ruin a puzzle for me.

Teedmn 10:06 AM  

Sur le pont d'Avignon
On y danse, on y danse
Sur le pont d'Avignon
On y danse tout en rond

Yup, that's what I had seven of in Avignon, POnts! Even with CAS_ SENSITIVE in my face, I stuck with POnt for a long, long time and it made the PAnERA_R__NE go right over my head! I just couldn't SEES it. And my mostly blank NE wasn't helping. It's a strange day when ISAO is my only gimme.

I went down to the SE and SW and worked back up both times and still was stuck. It wasn't until ______YONE turned into ASK ANYONE that I could fill in the NE and then everything else fell into place. Seven POPEs, eh?

I loved the look of WHERE WERE WE. Whee!

CUT TO the chase, Robyn, this was a SWEET little Saturday puzzle, thanks!

DrBB 10:09 AM  

Very fun puzzle, I loved it when I saw JELLOSHOTS, all good.

As a general comment: can we please banish EKE forever? Or could it at least just once be clued so as to suggest its original meaning? As a Middle/Old English kinda guy my mind just reads it as "ALSO" and cluing it as "scratch" or "stretch" or those things always irks me (while we're at it, it, can we banish IRES? It's IRKS, puzzlemakers, m'kay? No one ever says IRES). I mean, I get that those latter-day senses are how people use EKE now and I know how they got there (additionally-addition-supplement-etc), but some of the clues are just so far off from the etymology and I love the deeper archeology of this stuff. Seems like an opportunity being consistently lost. Sigh, just an idiosyncrasy that's gonna make me flinch in advance every time I see "scratch (out)" or whaever for a three-letter space and I know what they want but I hate putting it in. /rant

But this was both fast and tough, if that's a thing. I was on the right wavelength and my longshot guesses kept paying off. Fun!

Ellen S 10:10 AM  

I liked the puzzle, good, fresh clueing, right up until the end. 55A Vixen. A vixen can be a female fox, but in the sense that brings us MINX (an impudent, cunning, or boldly flirtatious girl or young woman. "you saucy little minx!") A vixen that is a MINX is “a spiteful or quarrelsome woman.” (Example: "an outrageous little shaven-headed vixen").

So, they aren’t really synonyms. What they have in common is they are derogatory terms for women who don’t know their place. Coming from a clever, intelligent (maybe uppity) woman constructor, I gotta hope this is a coded dig at the tokenism of the NYT’s March on Women or whatever this week is. Either that or Stockholm Syndrome.

Barbara S. 10:14 AM  

This puzzle was full of delightful misdirects and ambiguities. Many have already been mentioned, but I also liked 30D Sound (SANE) and 41D Literary lion (ASLAN). Could someone please use the word SEES in a sentence meaning "appreciates"? Somehow my brain just won't go there this morning although I'm sure that clue/answer combo is valid.

jberg 10:18 AM  

A lovely puzzle, as everyone is saying (well, almost everyone). Aside from all the trick cluing, my biggest problem was MOmma bear in place of MOTHER HEN. That made it hard to see a lot of the downs; and when WHERE Was I? didn't fit at 5D, it didn't occur to me to try it in the plural until eventually I had enough crosses. After that, it was just a normal tough struggle to get the rest. I loved every minute of it!

@Nancy -- your instinct is right; cardinals are finches, not tits.

Rex's dog Gabby died yesterday (it's in his Facebook feed); I guess that's why he wasn't here.

JC66 10:23 AM  


CASE SENSITIVE simply means that if your password is CASESENSITIVE, casesensitive won't work.

mbr 10:28 AM  

@Nancy: to elaborate on JC66's post, the answer refers to UPPER or lower case letters.

Bax'N'Nex 10:39 AM  

Does anyone else find it ironic the Mike says “Be Kind”???

Bax'N'Nex 10:41 AM  

Far too easy for a Saturday. I wonder...if Rex didn’t know it was a woman constructor, would he have been so complementary.?


RooMonster 10:42 AM  

Hey All !
Great puz! And as you all know (well, you might know), I don't like themelesses as much as themed puzs, so for me to say a Great puz, well, that should say something.

Had a boatload of wrong-right/right-wrong answers today. As in, you're sure of an answer, so you put it in, only to find none of the crosses work. Or, you put in a correct answer, only to take it out, because you can't get any cross to work. SCAR was one. Had it in early, but nothing was coming on the Downs, so took it out. Same area, had Tit for the "Small cardinal" (terrific clue, it ended up) forever, thinking "what else is a small three-letter bird?"

In the south, had Frodo for BILBO, which led to flat for BASH, and crabTACOS for FISHTACOS. Plus dem for JRS for a bit. All that gave me __TT___TT_ for SPOTLIGHTS, and really had me scratching my head. So took out everything but TACOS, said, "Hey, maybe it's not Frodo, the other one, um... BILBO!" Then was able to see FISH, JELLOSHOTS (another great clue) and clean up that area.

Has SsN for 35A for a bit, thinking everybody has an individual one of those. Which left me _AsPHONE, and was like, "Was there ever a GAS PHONE?" Har. Had _A_ERAIR__A__ for PAPERAIRPLANE, and that looked like nonsensical letters all jammed together. Wanted something to do with a weather vane. Or a sports ball of some sort. Like a pop-fly, or a high volleyball shot. Fun answer when it clicked.

10D, had to sing the final verse of the song to get it! Oh, that Barry Manilow!

tonS-SEAS, auK-YAK, ALOES and PENN in, out, in, out, in. Wrote in E_OL_ and waited on crosses. Great clues for FEET, SCAR, DAFT (which is a great word), and the others I mentioned earlier. WHEREWEREWE is a hoot to see. Only three letters in that whole phrase!

So a very good, very cool puz. This weekends themlesses were awesome!

Two F's

Pablo 10:48 AM  

Hard but fair. This is what Saturday should be about. I will say that both CSA and AGUE were unfamiliar to me and threw me for a loop, especially CSA. Still, lots of great, long entries here. Lots of "aha"s and not so many eye rolls. Really liked this one and not too many proper nouns, which usually skew old and towards a certain crowd.

DrBB 10:51 AM  

@Anonymous: US history had the CSA in it. The NRA is a thing. Banishing words because of history or other stuff we don't like is practically the definition of "Orwellian." Come back when you've read 1984.

GILL I. 11:08 AM  

Another goody...but it got me good in SENSITIVE places. I have to learn to put my Saturday chapeau on. Today I was the dunce wearer sitting in the corner. No thumb sucking but I did have an AGUE here and there.
Lets see...WHERE did I just stare? It helps to get up and move around and do laundry and empty the dish washer and think about what I'll make for dinner. FINALLY ...a light bulb moment. I got EKE and I was off and running. Little by little things popped in. I LOVE Robyn's misdirecting clues. You almost want to go up to her and tweak her sweet apple cheeks and shout CUTE.
When I can get the longs with a letter or two, I scream with joy. @@Joe Dip....I live for colloquialisms!!!! I wanted to sound like a native growing up as a heathen and my grandmother taught me to just learn them all and to cut to the chase. By the way, did you know that in Mississippi a squab is a fat person?
PAY PHONE was my favorite. I always carried a handkerchief in case I had to use one because someone told me that people have dirty ears and you can get things like ECOLI and Eboli and coronavirus if you don't wipe them off. I only had one kerchief and I used it all the time so I'm thinking all the germs kept getting transported around from phone to phone. I need to get a life!
OK so I got to the end and like all of you, I had a hard time getting that JELLO thing. I know I'm not being PC here and all that but I kept thinking Biden and Gore as has beens. Some people just need to go quietly into the sunset and let other fresh blood take over.
@La Leapster posted late last night/early morning. If you're in need of some out loud laughter, go back and read her. When you got to the doilies for oleaceous substances and the birth of Anti-Macassar Movement, I couldn't stop howling.

John Hoffman 11:10 AM  

Declaration upon walking in the door: HIHONEYIMHOME. Wrong!

Carola 11:14 AM  

Terrific puzzle in my book, with its witty cluing and snappy phrases. Medium for me, with a few what-in-the-world-is-going-on-here letter snarls that were fun and gratifying to unravel. I went most wrong in trying to transform the too-short "HOney, i'm HOME" into a similar phrase, like "fOlkS WE're HOME." Nope. Also entertained "ShiP To SHORE" in a moment of not being SANE.
Favorite clue: Fit for a sweater. Help from previous puzzles: ISAO, ESSEX. No idea: MACY.

@Robyn Weintraub, I always enjoy your puzzles. I thought this was one of your best.

Adolf H. 11:15 AM  

I love banning words.

Joaquin 11:22 AM  

An enjoyable and (relatively) easy Saturday. But I do agree with Anonymous @10:05 regarding "rebar" as a support structure. Rebar is used in the construction of the support structure but isn't the structure itself. But, unlike Anon, this nit didn't ruin the solve for me.

Anyone else think @Rex is trying to ease away from his usual harsh self with today's blog? His CSA and NRA rants seemed much tamer than usual to me.

jae 11:27 AM  

Wednesday easy. My only erasures were Tit (Hi @Z) before TWO (wrong type of cardinal plus I have no idea if tits and cardinals are related) and ind before WIS.
I put in MACY at 1a and just kept going. Aside from being too easy, I liked it.

If you are looking for an off beat and interesting series try The Fosters on Netflix co-staring TERI Polo.

Z 11:27 AM  

@Anon9:58 - Touché

Junief 11:32 AM  

Too nasty!

Anonymous 11:32 AM  

Aslan next to Bilbo is genius. Sheer genius. Lewis and Tolkien were ftienfs and colleagues often standing side by side (despite one of them being a Protestant ;)

Anonymous 11:34 AM  

I get that Mr. Sharp is mourning. But his gooey sentimentality is just that.
Epidemioligists say we have a great deal to worry about. In my opnion he should refrain from commenting on the risk of viral contagion.

Joseph Jakuta 11:34 AM  

I loved how BILBO and ASLAN were next to each other since Tolkein and Lewis were buds.

Anonymous 11:36 AM  

You sound fun Ellen

Unknown 11:39 AM  

These mini-rants remind of people trying to censor Huckleberry Finn. History happened the way it did, for the better and the worst. The best way to ensure return of the worst is to censor it.

Teedmn 11:47 AM  

@Gill I, thanks for the belly laugh on the image of you as a PAY PHONE Typhoid Mary!

JC66 11:47 AM  

re: CSA

About a month ago, I was out for dinner at a NYC steak house and seated next to us were two bright and attractive young women in their early twenties, so of course we started to chat. Turned out they were born & raised in Atlanta. When we exchanged names I said "I'm Jerry, but my middle name is Sherman, but please don't hold it against me." Blank stares. When I told them it was a joke, more blank stares. Me and my date were appalled that these women, who had graduated from high school in Atlanta had never heard of William Tecumseh Sherman. Are Atlantans ashamed of their past? But, what purpose does it serve to keep people in the dark?

Leslie 11:49 AM  

@Ellen S Agreed. Had to smile a bit at Stockholm Syndrome

Unknown 11:55 AM  

Rex! You’re so positive! Agree with your assessment of some answers being hard to get but liked them!

The Joker 11:58 AM  

Thought you was dead.

JP 12:00 PM  

re: 35A -- How does "individual, for one (abbr)" = SYN?

Bourbon Street 12:02 PM  

Aside from the fact that I now have a COPACABANA ear worm, I really enjoyed this puzzle. Very clever misdirects.

POPE fell easily for me because I traveled to Avignon a few years ago and toured the Papal Palace there. Avignon is a delightful town. Lots of history, great dining, architecture, and good shopping (especially the beautiful Provence pottery).

New solvers should commit golfer ISAO Aoki’s name to memory. If there is a NYTXW “Hall of Fame”, he’s in it right beside Esai Morales in the category of “People With Lots of Vowels in Their Names”.

JC66 12:09 PM  


One and individual are SYNonymous.

What? 12:24 PM  

If your password is Crossword and you type crossword, it won’t work because it’s case sensitive.

What? 12:32 PM  

Tough one for me and would have finished except never heard of JELLO SHOTS and POLIO SHOTS didn’t work.
So even though I got the other fills, some I didn’t like. I usually enjoy misdirections but PAPER AIRPLANE is too much. Also, golfer Aoki appears now in many crosswords so he has risen to fame, but not for his golf,

Chris 12:39 PM  

Played easy for me.
I won't do spoilers, but several overlaps with today's WSJ puzzle, including one exact clue/answer match.

Hana 12:53 PM  


Nancy from Chicago 12:55 PM  

I loved this puzzle, but I must be on Ms. Weintraub's wavelength because it was terrifically easy for me. My time was 11:26 without rushing, 3 minutes faster than my previous best (and Saturdays often take me over an hour). Still I thought the cluing was amusing and I actually giggled a couple of times (particularly at "typical stocking stuffers").

jb129 1:04 PM  

I love Robyn's puzzles even when I get stuck for too long (or maybe especially because I got stuck for too long). Thank you Robyn.

Masked and Anonymous 1:35 PM  

This SatPuz features the Jaws of Themelessness blacksquare structures, plus lotsa killer fillins. Like.
We really need to have the gals keep crankin out these primo puzs this month. If not possible with the Shortzmeister's current inventory, at least put some long-haired wigs on the dudes, and give em aliases, like Patricia Berry or Jennifer Chen or Erica Agard or somesuch.

fave fillins included: GOTASECOND [M&A went with GOTAMINUTE and lost precious nano-minutes]. PAPERAIRPLANE. JELLOSHOTS. ASKANYONE. SPOTLIGHTS.

staff weeject picks:
* ENE. Here, they justifiably left the MA endin off.
* ADO. Weird-ish clue. Are they sayin that Shakespeare coined the word "ado"? Or that production maybe is a SYN for ADO? That was a tough mini-cross to get, with CUTTO well-hidden by the unknown MACY.
* TWO. Becuz of its sneaky/feisty clue of {Small cardinal}. Clue of {Small cardinal??} would also be neat to use for CAR, sometime. The runtz are barkin in anticipation of this.

As SatPuzs go, I'd say @RP's "Easy to Easy-Medium" difficulty ratin might be about right, relatively speakin. Once we dug ourselves outta that semi-tricky NW beginnin corner, anyway.

Thanx for the themeless fun, Ms. Weintraub darlin. Lookin forward to that SunPuz by Michelle Sharp darlin, now …

Masked & Anonymo1U


TJS 1:55 PM  

@Z, First the "Why" : Because I left my cell in a bar in the Punta Cana airport, and then had the lovely experience of having my checked bags left in Atlanta and our arrival delayed by 2 hours. So as I wandered aimlessly around O'Hare in shorts and a tee shirt, jumping outdoors into sub zero temps to see if by some miracle I could find my son still waiting for me, I came upon a pay phone at the bottom of an escalator all by its lonesome and was able to reach my kid, who thankfully came back and got me. And that's as close as I can get to the Where.
Hopefully my return next month will go a little better.

chipschap 2:32 PM  

Boomer outrage?

Better than faux outrage at fill that only the touchiest PC types would find offensive. CSA, really? Fact of history, what's to offend?

Overall relatively easy and mostly fun puzzle. Sure didn't know about "jello shots" but the rest came in with appropriate effort and much amusement.

Z 2:33 PM  

@TJS - That's what you get for doing JELLO SHOTS at the Punta Cana Airport Bar. ;)

@M&A - "they justifiably left the MA endin off." Again, JELLO SHOTS are good before a colonic. And I think the Shakespeare clue is alluding to the fact that theater folk might be lazy and just refer to that particular production as ADO rather than the full title.

@JC6611:47 - My best man and his wife settled in Atlanta 35+ years ago. Being liberal arts grads they'd have gotten your apology. But being northerners (PA and MI) they'd not have taken it personally. Even then, the percentage of native Atlantans was diminishing. I'm not all that surprised that a couple of 20-somethings didn't draw the connection.

@Joaquin - REBAR is a support structure for concrete that makes the concrete a better support structure. At least, that's how I took it.

@Anon10:41 - Let me direct your attention to the M-W write-ups this week.

Hungry Mother 2:59 PM  

Drew a blank on the direction and had MArY for the unknown person, so DNF.

Gene 3:06 PM  

Agree 99%. The exception - not ignorance, just foolishness, IMO.

NY Composer 3:22 PM  

Gotta love PAW as one of four on Pluto.

JC66 3:26 PM  


It wasn't that they didn't get my feeble attempt at humor. It was that they didn't know who Sherman was...never heard of him.

Masked and Anonymous 3:34 PM  


Thanx to @MagnificentBeast Z, for the very plausible ADO explanation.

A special yo out to M&A's hero @r.alphbunker, creator of the runtpuz website. Have missed U here, as a Comment Gallery regular.

Now all we need is a guest re-appearance by @EvilDoug. He had some mighty rough comment bark on him, but he seemed like a real nice guy, whenever he took off the mask.


Frances B 3:59 PM  

Rex is so smart, but needs to know that PC is passe’ and borrrrrrrringgggg.

Frances B 4:06 PM  

PC is passe’ and borrrringgg....The thought police and the history re-writers need to lighten up.

Unknown 4:13 PM  

JRS and JELLO SHOTS AND that whole AGUE corner were the trickiest for me. But I loved it.

Anonymoose 4:19 PM  

I think PPP as it applies to a handful of commenters can mean Petty, Pissy, and Pedantic.

albatross shell 4:28 PM  

So many clues resulted in answers that made me smile. Memory lapse madame try Frodo and Golem before BILBO. One fit with STONE and one fit with JELLOSHOTS so went around in a circle for a couple of minutes before thinking wrong book, you dummy. I have a friend who brings trays of JELLOSHOTS to all large parties. Got that one on 3 crosses. First major progress iin puzzle. Having blownASHORE held me up a long time too. Even knowing that small cardinal was likely TWO and a long shot at Ten.

Easier than yesterday by a little, but with the style of cluing I live for. Great fill both days.

The closest I Can come for sees and appreciates: she appreciates your high-quality work. She sees your high-quality work. Pretty much the same. Leave out the adjective and there could be a noticeable difference.

I lost a long late note on yesterday's puzzle and then got into the LakersBucks game.
So just a couple musical notes:

Dear Mr. Fantasy play us a tune
Something to make us all happy
Do anything, take us out of this gloom
sing a song. play guitar. make it snappy

One of the reasons I like The Clash is they covered a Holy Modal Rounders song.

Anonymous 4:43 PM  

I do a lot of crossword puzzles. The New York Times used to be the best hands down. I agree with Rex that the Times usually isn’t the best anymore. Unfortunately, he, i.e. Rex is the main problem. No other puzzle gets anywhere near this much scrutiny. If I were a constructor, knowing every clue and answer would be analyzed ad nauseam , I’d submit elsewhere. Who needs this shite. CSA for God's sake. Get a life.

Nancy 4:52 PM  

@JC66 and @mbr -- Thanks for your explanation of CASE SENSITIVE. I thought that absolutely everything had to be typed correctly as far as upper and lower case letters were concerned -- including email addresses -- and am therefore surprised to find out it's only the password. Guess I can stop saying when giving people my email: "That's a lower case "n" (etc.)" I've wasted a lot of unnecessary breath over the years.

@Leapfinger -- So very happy to see you unexpectedly popping up here! What a treat! If I had anything to do with persuading you to come back to the blog, even if it's only the teeniest smidgen, I'm extremely pleased with myself :) Please hang around for a while.

Barbara S. 5:00 PM  

Well, grumbling granola-bars, unless I missed it, no one took up my query from way back at 10:14, so I'll take it up myself. I was ruminating about the relationship between clue "appreciates" and answer SEES (23A). Yesterday we had SEES paired with "matches" as in poker terminology. Today we have SEES and appreciates, and I've been trying to think of an illustrative sentence. The best (really, the only) example I can think of is: "I see you," which could mean "I appreciate you," "I value you," "I'm impressed by you." But then again, "I see you" could also mean "I'm onto you -- don't try anything." So context is everything.

OK, that was a complete-in-two-parts discussion with self!

Groucho 5:08 PM  

Yeah, that's right. The lack of puzzle quality is Rex's fault and the spread of the Coronavirus in the U.S. is the Democrats' fault.

Barbara S. 5:14 PM  

@albatross shell 4:28

I SEE you! But obviously I didn't before posting my latest comment. Thanks for the alternative example.

Bourbon Street 5:15 PM  

@Barbara S. Maybe I can help with an example. “I see your point” means that I appreciate what you are trying to say. In this example, “appreciate” means “understand fully”. One can understand another’s argument without agreeing with it.

Nancy 5:24 PM  

@Barbara S. and @albatross shell: "SEE" = "APPRECIATE" on the occasions where they both mean "understand":

"I see what you're trying to say..."

"I appreciate what you're trying to say..."

In this instance, APPRECIATE has no connotation of "gratitude" at all. To "understand" is a secondary meaning of APPRECIATE.

jae 5:29 PM  

@Barbara S. - “I see how hard you’ve worked on our project”. “I see the merit of you argument, but I disagree”

@Nancy - The username in email addresses is case sensitive.

Joe Dipinto 5:37 PM  

@albatross shell 4:28 – you can reuse your song tomorrow.

Birchbark 5:47 PM  

@Barbara S. (5:00) -- "Appreciate" and "see" can both indicate "understand."

I can appreciate your wondering why no one responded to your 10:14 post, which raised an interesting question. Said another way, I can SEE how you'd wonder why no one responded to your worthy 10:14 post.

Most often in a context like this: "He appreciates that this puts you in a difficult position, but there's no other option." = "He SEES how this puts you in a difficult position, but there's no other option."

Carola 5:48 PM  

@Barbara S. 5:00 - I'll hazard a tentative response. How about "appreciate" in the sense of "to grasp the significance of" (from the OED), as in these citations: "1839. A. Alison, Hist. Europe from French Revol. VII. liv. 329: Napoleon..instantly appreciating the magnitude of the danger" and "1971. N. Brown Antarctic Housewife ix. 96 I came to appreciate that it [sc. snow] could be further classified as wet, dry, powder, corn and hard snow"?

pabloinnh 6:01 PM  

Hi @BarbaraS.-Late to the welcome party, so welcome. And today you're ignored. The blog can be a little uneven.

Most concise example I could cite would be "Eyes they have, but they see not..", which certainly implies a failure to appreciate. Think it's from an old book somewhere.

Hope this is helpful.

GHarris 6:03 PM  

Yes, it was a fun,tough puzzle but I worked my way through without a single cheat until I got to elloshots. Since I was certain that the cross was VPs I was left with velloshots. Now here’s my beef. Joe Biden and Al Gore, as written, are not juniors. Those are the names of the daddies. Ergo, I feel cheated.

Anonymous 6:08 PM  

Groucho is right about Rex having a detrimental effect on the puzzle. I don’t know why he blames Democrats for the spread of the Corona virus though, or why, if true, it should be brought up on a crossword blog.

Joe Dipinto 6:16 PM  

You can't appreciate the forest for the trees.

Bernie Babe 6:40 PM  

Wait Groucho is blaming Democrats for spread of Wuhan flu. First I’ve heard of that. Is he some right wing nut job ?

Anonymous 7:08 PM  

@Barbara S. - No part of an email address is case-senstive.

Anonymous 7:35 PM  

Sorry @Barbara S,, my mistake, it was @jae who said the username in email addresses is case-sensitive. It's not.

Ngart1954 7:43 PM  

Fastest Saturday time ever! Lots of Es and Ss, but very smooth like all of this constructor’s puzzles.

Charles 8:04 PM  

Since when did the titles of Shakespeare's works start being cropped down to a single word?Seems like lazy cluing to me. I hope the trend doesn't continue and we see SHREW as the answer to "Shakespearean production" someday.

Barbara S. 8:15 PM  

Wow, SEAS of SEES replies! The APOGEE of answers! It's clear that the words "see", "appreciate" and "understand" are engaged in an intricate definitional dance. But, OH MY GOSH (from yesterday), do feel free to ignore me any time. We all of us write things that may or may not be interesting enough for others to pursue. And, as you can see from today's example, I'm happy to have a nice little chat with myself whenever I feel the need. I posted a second time not to subliminally harangue you all into replying (although it was mighty fine that you did), but to share the results of my own thinking about what I considered an interesting language issue. But it's always fun to get a dialogue going -- this blog is the best!

@pabloinnh Sounds Biblical.

jae 8:28 PM  

@anon 7:35 - I should have said maybe case sensitive. Here is the info I found on the net.

The correct answer to this question is both yes and no. According to RFC 5321, the local part of the email address is case sensitive. This means that, in theory, is not the same as However, email providers have the liberty to treat the local parts as both case sensitive and case insensitive.

For example,,, and are theoretically different email addresses. It is easy to see how this could create problems and diminish user experience if a mail server opted to treat the local parts as case sensitive. Therefore, many providers treat the local part of the email address as case insensitive.

RooMonster 8:40 PM  

Who is Peter Peterson? Your alias? 😋

And all, don't forget to set your clocks ahead one hour tonight. You don't want to be early to something tomorrow and wonder where everyone is.

RooMonster Informative Guy

Richardf8 9:00 PM  

If we see OHARE clued as “Airport with a pay phone,” I’ll blame you.

pabloinnh 9:03 PM  

@Barbara S.-

It is biblical, of course. The "old book" reference was another of my attempts at humor that succeeds in amusing pretty much only myself. I think I was actually citing Mark Twain, who did something similar to explain something more obvious, like the golden rule. In his case, people thought it was pretty funny.

Z 9:04 PM  

@Anon’s asking about @Groucho - Sarcasm. Thanks Obama.

JC66 9:15 PM  



Thanks, I probably would have forgotten.

jae 9:31 PM  

@Roo - I actually had an alias on the blog for a while, but he retired when the mods came on board.

Barbara S. 10:32 PM  

@pabloinnh 9:03 p.m.

I realized the minute I hit "Publish Comment" that I'd just taken all the air out of your "old book." I'll try not to be such a chuckle-kill next time.

TJS 12:03 AM  

@Richardf8, I love it. Maybe because I just got back from the bars. But I thought it was a great response.

RooMonster 4:57 AM  

Addendum because I'm dumb. (Rhymes, maybe?)
You'll be late to something, not early on this time change.
Man, this changing the clock is confusing. Just pick a time and keep it!

Roo Frequently Wrong One

pdplot 10:24 AM  

Enjoyed this puzzle from start to finish. Confession - I couldn't come close to finishing yesterdays. A little pop culture, some literary references, clever clues - more like this, please.

57Stratocaster 8:18 PM  

4 stars

Unknown 9:13 PM  

I have been doing these puzzles forever and don't remember enjoying one more. Thanks for the diversion!

kitshef 7:37 PM  

As much as I disliked this week's Thu-Fri, I love this one so much more. I don't agree with Rex's difficulty rating, as I found this quite tough to to ambiguous cluing, and highLIGHTS before SPOTLIGHTS. But utterly fair - everything was gettable with time and thought.

thefogman 9:55 AM  

We appreciate you too Rex.

thefogman 10:44 AM  

PS - I just heard this on the radio - Puzzles are the new toilet paper during these troubling times because of how they take your mind off of all the bad news.

rondo 10:53 AM  

Wednesday called and wants its (quite good) puzzle back. The 1a/1d gimmes and off to the races. Too much worry about CSA; it's history, and it's history.

I keep a list (in my own code) of the 20+ passwords I might use at work; lotsa apps and such. Some are CASESENSITIVE and that's my way to remember.

TERI Polo circled, YEAH baby.

Fun puz; pretty easy, ASKANYONE.

Burma Shave 11:45 AM  


they'll HAVE NOIDEA, I reckon,


spacecraft 12:26 PM  

Feisty puz, via some of those clues: my Shakespearean production was an oDe, of course. 1a was unknown, so no help there. Nor was the clue for AGUE--which, along with ISAO, EKE and ELIE, give this grid a "Oh no, not AGAIN!!" feeling. Fought through the EWE/EWE and CCS/SEAS crosses...but all that was the perigee.

The APOGEE is the rest of the puzzle, including all the long entries. Well, maybe FISHTACOS. Doubly unappetizing at this house; hard to believe there is such a thing. Only other writeover was lyNX. NE was starting place, and easiest, but the other areas fought back hard. I make it medium-challenging. Considerable triumph points accrue. TERI (take your pick: Hatcher, Garr or the clued POLO) wins DOD. Birdie.

Watching CNN last night I was struck by talk of the effect of this pandemic lasting not weeks or even months--but YEARS--perhaps for all time. Will there ever again be a March Madness? A Woodstock? Lecture halls?

Yeah, I know: I watch too much CNN.

leftcoaster 3:55 PM  

No question, this is a pretty spectacular puzzle with a surfeit of great long downs and acrosses.

Had trouble with some of the shorter stuff, though: MACY, AGUE, HOLEY, and TWO, while JRS and FEET were late surprises.

It was all FAIRGAME though, and a very good one.

rainforest 4:18 PM  

What a good puzzle! I didn't get to do yesterday's because no paper, but I gather from comments it was also a good one, so two gems in a row.

I started off with what gimmes I could find: MACY, MAGMA, DISCO, ELIE, CODA, and then WRAPped up the SW fairly quickly. When I read the clue for 33A, my first thought was PAPER AIRPLANE, but I didn't want to risk all those letters right off. So, I proceeded with the thought that if that were correct, what would that give me for the crosses. I often do this with long answers, and it may be the wrong way to solve, but it works often enough that I'll continue this way. Getting PAPER AIRPLANE made me see that for 29A HOnEy, I'm home wasn't going to work (too short, anyway) but getting WIS, which I didn't know was a neighbour of ILL coughed up HOME SWEET HOME, and then CASE SENSITIVE came easily.

The last section for me was the NE where I guessed SPONGE and SCAR and, sorta, Voila!
JELLO SHOTS was brilliant, as was FISH TACOS, which I like, especially when hot. Actually the whole puzzle verged on brilliant. I liked it a lot.

J Howard 9:20 PM  

He sees the value in restoring that old chair.

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