## Saturday, April 25, 2020

Constructor: Andrew Ries

Relative difficulty: Medium (7:46, first thing in the morning)

THEME: none

Word of the Day: DOTS (1D: Simple pencil-and-paper game) —
Dots and Boxes is a pencil-and-paper game for two players (sometimes more). It was first published in the 19th century by French mathematician Édouard Lucas, who called it la pipopipette. It has gone by many other names, including the game of dotsdot to dot gridboxes, and pigs in a pen.
The game starts with an empty grid of dots. Usually two players take turns adding a single horizontal or vertical line between two unjoined adjacent dots. A player who completes the fourth side of a 1×1 box earns one point and takes another turn. (A point is typically recorded by placing a mark that identifies the player in the box, such as an initial.) The game ends when no more lines can be placed. The winner is the player with the most points. The board may be of any size grid. When short on time, or to learn the game, a 2×2 board (3×3 dots) is suitable. A 5×5 board, on the other hand, is good for experts. (wikipedia)

• • •

Ordinary. Solid, with a smattering of newish / flashy answers, but heavy on the short stuff and thick with a crust of yore. AIKEN OREL OLAV TSLOT ULTIMO MOLTO ECO ILIE MERC ACERB CPO EKES ARNIE TIT ESTD ... and the clues skewed oldenish as well. Quaint and corny and bygone. In short, as I say, ordinary. This is what tickles somebody, clearly, but not me. Not much. But this is not to say that it's bad or poorly made; well, certainly not the latter. If I, or you, think it's bad, today that is much more a matter of taste than demonstrable structural deficiencies. But a puzzle loaded with short fill on a Saturday is bound to be dire. Making four-letter words Saturday-worthy usually involves doing sadistic / bizarre stuff to the clues. Who wants to slog through a small 6x4 section. The grid isn't really built for fun. The middle stack almost gets lost in the noise and chaos of the much-less-entertaining short stuff. Also, I just can't get excited about CINCINNATI CHILI, largely because I don't know what that is (10D: Regional specialty of southern Ohio). But even if I did, meh. Lots of real estate on something that, sure, exists, but has very little else to recommend it.

 for after the chili
Even the newish stuff today felt stale. JUKEBOX MUSICALS and TIGER MOTHER and even STAIRMASTER would've been fresh close to a decade ago. They're fine now, but have about as much currency as CAPTAIN KANGAROO, which ... pockets? You're defining him by his pocket size? Weird. (3D: Big-pocketed character on an old show). I watched that dude when I was a kid and his pockets were nothing I took note of. I guess WEIRDBOWLCUT isn't really a strong standalone answer. I wouldn't mind seeing MRGREENJEANS in a puzzle. Anyway, my overall reaction to this puzzle is best exemplified by my reaction to 50A: Model company (CAR MAKER), which was "uh ... sure, I guess." That is, the fill wasn't terribly strong to begin with, and the clues were *trying* to jazz it up but in the end the ahas mostly ended up being ohs.

DOTS / DA CAPO / OREL made the NW a very tough start for me. I sadly got my first big boost from EKES (ugh), because the "K" helped me see DRAKE (35A: Spotify's most-streamed artist of the 2010s), which helped me clean up the mess I'd created in the west, where I'd gone IOTA / INRI / NET instead of WHIT / WWJD / WON. Oh, I should say that WWJD is interesting 4-letter fill (23D: Christian bracelet letters). I like it. What Would Jesus Do? Anyway, it beats the hell out of INRI, which I still don't really know the meaning of. Not many other real snags, once I got going. Had ASIS for PAID (26D: Red stamp word). Oh, and VAC / VOLTO (?) instead of MIC / MOLTO for a tiny bit (44A: Bit of A/V equipment / 44D: Very, musically). Speaking of MOLTO, you already exhausted your Italian musical notation at 1A. Going back to the well here is blecch. Honestly, I think the worst thing in this puzzle or any puzzle is ULTIMO, which has never been said by anyone anywhere ever ever and exists only to be in dictionaries and crossword puzzles. Not sure there's a greater gap between grid frequency of real-word frequency, considering real-world frequency is ~0. "Oh, hi Betty, I haven't seen you since ULTIMO, how are you?" [Betty pretends not to see you, scurries away to ogle lettuce]. /Scene

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

Loren Muse Smith

The clue for STAIRMASTER alone was worth the price of admission. So good. I also liked the clues for ASS, SATELLITE TV, CAR MAKER (sorry, Rex), and PITTED.

The right half went in pretty quickly but the left half, not so much. A couple of areas mucked things up forever:

“Hits” and then “sops” for SAGS (41A “Really sinks in”)
“Masseur” for TROOPER (53A “One sometimes working on a shoulder”)

Rex. Wait. You’ve say you’ve never heard of CINCINNATI CHILI but then go on to say that it has “very little elso to recommend it.” Huh? It’s so fun! You can eat it two-way, three-way, four-way, or five-way. That gimmick alone does it for me. It’s delicious, but I have made it only once ‘cause the ingredient list has like 42 things. Including chocolate. No. Really. But I tell ya, the idea of serving chili on spaghetti noodles is beyond irresistible.

I laughed when I finally got CAPTAIN KANGAROO. I’m trying to keep up with my startling hair growth and can effectively manage my bangs using cuticle scissors. I’m lost, though, when it comes to the sides and have pretty much left them alone. The result is heading more and more towards a CAPTAIN KANGAROO hair vibe.

Ok. So the book is Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, but I guess most people now call this person a TIGER Mom, right? I can’t imagine raising kids that way; I’m more a Manatee Mom. Sure, my kids took music lessons, but I never insisted they practice. I wanted them to do well in school, but I never fretted and fussed over their grades. Never made them work out. Never made them keep their rooms clean. The whole while I watched my sister parent a bit more tigerishly, and I was a little scared that my weeny style would be detrimental to my kids’ success, but, well, they’re doing ok. If all goes well, my son will get out of prison in three months, and we’re so proud of him.

Speaking of Tiger Moms, I’ll tell ya who’s responsible for Trump’s magnificent, public downward spiral. Responsible for the mystifying suggestions, the lies about what he said in the previous hours, the bragging about his press conference ratings. . .

TonySaratoga

Anyone who does Andrew’s puzzles weekly knows that he is one of the best constructors out there and that today’s puzzle wouldn’t even crack his top 50 in the last year. He’s so consistently terrific. It’s too bad this one isn’t that representative of his super high quality output.

Diver

Ultimo? Really? What century is this?

Ry

Alright, I’m going to need an explainer in the clue for ASS. I’ve been staring at it for awhile now and am really trying to make sense of it to no avail. Interesting having both ASS and TIT in the grid today.

Frantic Sloth

When I read "Big-pocketed character" (on an old show), not only did I not imagine CAPTAINKANGAROO, I couldn't escape the persistent image of Villanelle in her party clown getup.

If anyone doesn't understand what I mean by that, it's not you. It's Killing Eve.

I mostly agree with Rex's review and I'd go as far as saying that too much of it was just this side of Green Paint Paradise.

prandolph

Crunchy but fast solve. Liked it a bunch !

GILL I.

Yeah....I only know INRI because I think it was Maleska who taught me that it's Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews. My small brain would look at this and think "well...shouldn't that be JTNKOTJ?" Oh, no....it has to be INRI. Do tell...what is WWJD? And who is DRAKE?
Oof...this was Tre hard for moi. The only answer I had was ILIE. I had to get up and walk around for ages before any light bulb moment became visible. What to do...should I cheat right off the bat....Of course, otherwise you ain't going nowhere. So I did with 1A and DACAPO. Wow. That was easy. So I cheated again and again and again - especially with those clues that had "old" in them and there were three. Dang. I hate to cheat - it's like stealing. I stole some candy once when I first came to the USofA. It was in a convenience store jut like "Kim's Convenience." The owner wasn't Korean, didn't matter. He made me cry.
So...is a TIGER MOTHER one of those helicopter types? If you eat a little TORTE will you need ROLAIDS? Or is that saved for the CINCINNATI CHILI?
What did I like? There was some fun here. How I got CAPTAIN KANGAROO remains a mystery to me. I don't even think my kids watched him. His toupee reminds me of Boris Johnson. Don't men look at their hair in the mirror?
The clue for MITT was cute and I liked TIP TOE. TIP TOE thru the tulips.
Another day staring at walls and washing my hands. I'm out of books to read so maybe I'll wash the car in isolation.

Loren Muse Smith

@Ry - you might pack your donkey, or ASS, for a trip to the mountains. Nice catch on the racy stuff.

Hungry Mother

WAGed my way out of the NW I’m not sure how I feel after finishing successfully, other than simply relieved. I remember asking a cabbie to recommend the most representative food of Cincinnati and discovering what became our regular Super Bowl meal.

Anonymous

The clue for ASS is misleading at the very best. Mules are used for pack camping far more than donkeys (asses) at least in this country. And those who do use donkeys call them donkeys, or burros, not asses.

QuasiMojo

This puzzle may have screamed old but I liked it because it seemed to be toying with that notion. It made me think which is why I do these blasted things in the first place. My one big stumble was throwing down DIOR for the Christian bracelet, having confused it with those Cartier screw bracelets couples used to give each other.

I can never remember which AFI quote is #1. I was trying to fit in Bogart. As for GWTW, I never got to the end (I left at intermission) so I never heard Gable utter those immortal shocking words.

Is there anything more depressing, at least to theater lovers, than Jukebox Musicals? Well yes, I guess. Musicals based on cheesy 80s movies. Maybe they'll do one of "ST ELMO's Fire."

CDilly52

@Frantic 6:49. I had exactly the same reaction to the big pockets and when Ingot most of the KANGAROO in the SW I still didn’t want to believe it! Talk about “playing old!” HooBOY!

pabloinnh

Well, big-pocketed should be a huge hint that a kangaroo is involved. It was for me. Also knew about CINCINNATICHILI, but I always have a problem with the double N vs. the double T part of spelling Cincinnati. DACAPO (music) was a gimme, as were TOMCAT and TIGERMOTHER, although I'm with LMS on the tiger mom version. In short, lots of toeholds and handholds all over which made this fun but just way too fast for a Saturday.

Hola GILL I-INRI would be the Latin abbreviation for Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. Maybe one of our Latin teachers can supply the actual wording. Bet you didn't have any trouble with ULTIMO either. Hey OFL, you want to know who says that? Everyone that speaks Spanish.

Nice stuff, AR. You hit me right in my trivia trove.

Sarah

NW just about killed me. DOTS / DA CAPO / OREL are Three Things I Do Not Know, and I was sure 13A was about trees, and I got the meaning of 2D but with only the ending A I couldn't think of anything to fit (thinking of Met visitors or audiences). Really rough.

CDilly52

@Gill I fell into the INRI hole myself until the J for JUKEBOX. I had MUSICALS because I k we both shows were of that genre (although I had seen neither). Once the J appeared, from somewhere deep in the recesses of my memory I recalled one of my daughters friends when they were very young having an arm full of the WWJD bracelets and when she spotted a t-shirt with the the same initials one day I just had to ask. I remember so vividly the eye roll and the answer that began with “Duh. . . “ I had forgotten that dad until today.

amyyanni

Cincinnati, or Skyline Chili features prominently in the various race combos at the Flying Pig Marathon, which I was supposed to run this year....
Found this one went by too fast, probably just in my wheelhouse. Anyone think of Rollie Fingers when you got to the relief pitcher clue?
Also found the NW the toughest and loved the stairmaster clue.

Joaquin

I don't care what Rex says; I enjoyed solving this puzzle with all its mini aha moments.

Jeff Keller

Loved this puzzle. Nearly every fill made me smile. Was held up a little bit by Cincinnati chili, but it is definitely a thing and was a nice aha moment for me.

Frantic Sloth

@amyyanni 754am Relief = ROL...= Rollie Fingers. Yep. Right there with ya. :)

Ckeener76

So, somebody sneaks ASS and TIT into a puzzle and no one notices?

Mike Herlihy

I must be old. My first entry was CAPTAINKANGAROO and I wrote in CINCINNATICHILI off the initial C. Things just fell into place quickly after that.

The old Captain would pull things out of his pockets as Mary Poppins did from her bag. Good times.

Robert A. Simon

Think riding down into the Grand Canyon. That kind of ass.

Brett

CINCINNATICHILI is a fine answer. Cincinnati Chili as a foodstuff is an abomination unto the Lord.

AW

Asses can be packed for a trip down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, along a jungle trail, across a desert—anywhere. The clue for 20A is unfairly specific. Should have been "One may be packed for a trip"—period.

Can someone explain 29A? Who or what is Arnie? What "Army" did he lead?

And what does TIT mean in 37A?

And what does MERC have to do with Chi-Town? Some kind of mercantile exchange?

Clearly this one was way, way, way out of my wheelhouse.

@LMS 6:26—Like you, I was most definitely not a tiger mom. I gave my kids music lessons but left it up to them whether they wanted to continue. Decades later my musician son asked me, "Why didn't you make me practice? I would have learned to read music." Can't win.

MHL

Keep your culinary bashing to yourself, Brett. I'm on my way to my favorite chili parlor drive-through for lunch today. Sincerely, a Cincinnati resident

Z

My team, Age Against the Machine, is based in CINCINNATI, so that was a Monday answer here. The eternal question is “Gold Star or Skyline?”

Spent more time waving away cobwebs today. The TOMCAT was retired 14 years ago. ARNIE’s Army is from the middle of last century (Palmer turned pro in 1954). ILIE Nastase retired from tennis in 1985, meaning lots of people who weren’t born when he retired have retired from tennis. I had a brief moment of “did I miss something” with the “of old” in the ROLAIDS clue, but no. ROLAIDS is still around apparently. Still, the PITTED and ASS clues get a loud “huzzah” from me, i think the middle 11-letter downs are nice, and 67% of the 15’s are current, so it’s not all bad by any means.

What Rex said about the corners. Near the end all I had left to finish was NW and SE. Neither was all that difficult for me, but neither was exactly riveting. Funniest moment was finishing with STELMO and wonder who the heck that was... and then adding the missing period.

@Gill I late yesterday - Noted. Mostly I thought the earlier commenter was so far off base given what you’d written Wednesday.

Teedmn

For an Andrew Ries puzzle, this was extremely easy. His weekly puzzles are usually of Stumper level difficulty and this wasn't.

That's not to say I didn't enjoy it. I didn't start in the NW, even though I had counted out CAPTAIN KANGAROO in the grid and it fit. I didn't splatz it in because it would interfere with what I thought 13A would be - like @Sarah 7:37, I thought 13A was tree-related and AXE MAN would work with the Russian eagle city, OnSK. Oops, Omsk. It's just as well that I started out at EDIT crossing ECO and finished in the NW.

STELMO was a DOOK for me briefly. Not quite a forehead slap, but it garnered a "duh".

Andrew, I enjoyed this, thanks.

MHL

Dear Rex Parker, once the lockdown is over I'll be happy to introduce you to Cincinnati chili when you come to town. And FYI, the correct dessert post-chili is 2 mini sized York peppermint patties. And then a stop at our famous Graeter's for ice cream. I'll buy there, too.

Z

@AW - “unfairly specific” is pretty standard for Saturday cluing.
TIT for tat
Arnold Palmer, a golfer, had fans who would follow him as he played, ARNIE’s Army.
And yes, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange was (is?) known as the MERC.

Ciclista21

ULTIMO seems fine to me. In fact, I like it. It has sort of a Martin Chuzzlewit flavor to it. Just one more archaism in a week full of them. Perhaps this fondness for things past is an effect of the coronavirus shutdowns, with puzzle makers and editors holed up with their dictionaries looking for mementos of an earlier age?

Rex is right, though, no one says ULTIMO. In fairness to solvers, some hint in the clue that we’re dealing with an arachaism would have been nice. “Last month, according to Martin Chuzzlewit,” perhaps.

(Poor old Martin, I don’t know if he or anyone associated him actually spoke or wrote ULTIMO, or advised us that something had occurred “on the sixth ult.,” for example. I just land on him because if I knew the word, I figure it had to be from reading 19th-century novels, and has anyone ever invented a more deliciously Dickensian name than Martin Chuzzlewit?)

Speaking of archaisms, when was the last time anyone packed their ASS for a trip to the mountains? Good one, Team Will. Chortle, chortle.

Montrealxworddiva

You mean that BITCH Carole Baskin! Threw in Captain Kangaroo and never looked back.

Teresa

The whole point about Captain Kangaroo was that he had big pockets, like a kangaroo's pouch. We five-year-olds who watched him knew that. It was an instant giveaway for me.

JOHN X

Hey this was a great Saturday puzzle! Kicked my ass for one hour and four minutes, although I passed out drunk twice during that elapsed game time. In the end, victory was mine.

CINCINNATTICHILI was the real ass-kicker, because if you'll observe I spelled it wrong. That, coupled with FAN for a cooler which led to MART for the Chi-Town exchange (I was in the neighborhood!) caused all sorts of conniptions along the Mid-Atlantic sector of this battlefield. Eventually, an eco-friendly LED light bulb appeared above my head: did I spell CINCINNATI wrong? And that, my friends, led to the complete collapse of all this puzzles defenses.

Before this blog turns into some stupid chili flame war today, let me say that I am a huge fan of Cincinnati-style chili, although that's a misnomer because it really originated in Greek diners all over the Midwest during The Great Depression. I've never been to Cincinnati (I hear it's nice) nor had Skyline Chili (it looks covered with cheese) but I first had 5-way Cincinnati Chili at The Hard Times Cafe in Alexandria VA. And it's great. I even make it myself once or twice a year. Don't be a chili chauvinist.

Here's my Pandemic Financial Tip of the day: Some day soon, and I'm not exactly sure when, there's going to be a two week wait to even get into barber shop or hair stylist. So I'm currently investing heavily in that blue fluid they keep on the counter.

Suzie Q

I put in Captain Kangaroo as my first entry. Poor Rex didn't remember that the big pockets were how he got his name.
I hate it when commercial jingles get into my mind. Why can't I remember important stuff that well? When I saw "relief pitcher" I knew it was a Saturday trick but I wanted Alka-Seltzer.
Plop plop fizz fizz
Oh what a relief it is.
I think the secret ingredient to the chili is cinnamon.
A bit too easy for a Saturday but fun enough.
I did laugh at myself after I finally parsed St. Elmo correctly.
Before that it was "Who is Stelmo?"

Anonymous

With a brother who went to Xavier (that's "Xavier with a Z" - not the X-men school) in Cincinnati and a son who went to Miami of Ohio (in Oxford - Ohio, not England - it's complicated), I'm well aware of that area's chili but wanted it to be Skyline Chili. I never heard it called Cincinnati Chili but I soon gave in and was SO proud of myself. Anything I get on a Saturday is cause for celebration. Wound up filling in a lot of the NE and SE, so it was fun for me. Kangaroo and pockets - clever but never connected that with the Captain but then I never really watched him - is that where he got his name? Who knew? Btw, you can get Skyline Chili in the freezer section of some grocery stores, which made my son very happy. Apparently Skyline Chili is an addiction. Don't worry, he finally lost the weight - and started running, even ran a marathon, so it's all good! - newbie

webwinger

Once I got going, this one seemed to be filling itself in; felt like I would have a PB for Saturday but ended up (geometrically) about midway between previous record and average times according to the app. About half as long as yesterday’s solve.

I vividly remember watching the very first broadcast of CAPTAIN KANGAROO (in 1955 according to Wikipedia), in which the Captain began by introducing himself and explaining his name: Captain because of his uniform, Kangaroo because of his big pockets. (Also remembering now that just a few days ago someone here mentioned Tom Terrific, an animated segment on the show that had a way more sophisticated sense of humor than it should have.) Proud of myself for getting DRAKE (whom I know only from x-world) with just a couple of letters from crosses.

Marriage Story now streaming on Netflix. Most powerful divorce movie I’ve ever seen. Maybe if I’d been there myself when I first watched Kramer vs. Kramer...

BarbieBarbie

Well shoot, @GillI, I didn’t respond to something you said yesterday because i thought you wouldn’t see it, and here you’ve already commented today and you might not see this. But I’ll say it anyway: if you are having trouble with your glasses fogging up when you wear a face mask, get a piece of tape (bandage-type paper tape is best) and stick your face mask to the bridge of your nose. Even the wired ones need help with the nose-seal. Tip from my medical-pro daughter.

I thought this puzzle was fine. It’s weird how, late at night, I can’t come up with something like CAPTAINKANGAROO and then in the groggy early morning I can.
I liked the grid today. Even though several of the answers required knowledge I didn’t have, or not readily anyway, that stair step cascade down the middle glued everything together so that I could eventually see the answer. After a few rounds. Total solve time < 3 Rexes, so I feel good.

One for the copy editors among us: lengths are their own gray areas, as I just realized when writing the above. You can either view 3 Rexes as a noun and its modifier, or a collective noun, which means you can say “fewer than 3 Rexes” or “less than three Rexes” depending on whether you are answering “how many?” or “how long?”. As a STEMer, I of course feel felt free to punt with a symbol.

About the written-vs-spoken style discussion from the other day: which one describes a blog?

Nancy

Today the pop culture was my friend, as I immediately knew JUKEBOX MUSICALS and TIGER MOTHER. (Although my mind did briefly turn to HELICOPTER MOM.) Didn't know that RHETT BUTLER had the #1 movie quote, but with a few crossing letters, his name became clear soon enough. Yay, RHETT. Way to go. So glad you haven't been squeezed out by all those "Lord of the Rings" and "Harry Potter" folks.

Should have thought of CAPTAIN KANGEROO. Have never seen him in the flesh, or hide, as it were, but of course a KANGEROO would have "big pockets". Lovely clue.

Great clues also for INDEX FINGER; SHRAPNEL; MITT; TAPE; ROLAIDS and PITTED. Never heard of CINCINNATI CHILI, but it came in nicely. A very enjoyable and engrossing puzzle.

Mr. Green Jeans

Because Captain Kangaroo always found interesting and fun things to share with his audience in his big pockets. They were a critical prop. But, of course, because Rex doesn't know that, he can't just leave it at "gee, I don't quite get that one," but instead has to disparage the puzzle constructor, who clearly knows more than Rex does.

td

Had to wait for the crosses to know how many n's in Cincinnati . . .
Captain Kangaroo character I'd most like to see in a puzzle: The Banana Man.
Second choice: Fred from Channel One.
I enjoyed this but it seems like it played too fast for a Saturday.
Acerb as adjective (or any word, really) does not seem serious.
Cincinnati Chili has been called "America's most controversial plate of pasta."

LieutKije

Have never heard of ARNIE’s Army and had VOID for PAID so simply could finish this without checking Rex’s grid. I liked CINCINNATICHILI though, I’ve never had it but its infamy precedes it. Made a relative very ill at the Louisville airport once.

kitshef

Good, but tough, like a Saturday should be. A bit heavy on crosswordese, but I’ll take that for a good puzzle otherwise.

Funny solve, as some of the longs were easy (CINCINNATI CHILE, JUKEBOX MUSICALS), but the little areas gave me fits. DA CAPO is a WoE at 1A, and that whole section was tough with OREL also a WoE, multiple possible meanings for “creep”, no idea on CAPTAIN K… until a lot of letters were in.

Last letter was the MERC/PEN cross. Mentally ran the vowels several times before I got PEN.

redanman

No love, no hate

Neither my wife nor I knew about the pockets on CK. That's what made this tough for me, banged out nearly every cross.

Mike G

Rex - I got trapped by the same INRI/IOTA cross, but to answer your question I'll go out on a limb and say that INRI stands for Initiate Nail Removal Immediately as suggested by one of Neil Stephenson's characters (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cryptonomicon)

kitshef

@LMS: have your husband or son cut your hair. You'll save money and it will look great and you'll never pay for a haircut again (sorry, John X).

@Gill I - DRAKE is arguably the most successful recording artist ever. He had the #1 song last week (#2 this week) with Toosie Slide. He has four Grammys, has had more songs appear in the hot 100 in his career than the Beatles, and more in the top 10, too. He once had seven out of the top 10 songs in the US. If you know any of his work, which you may not, it might be the song God's Plan, or maybe Hotline Bling.

Lewis
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lewis

I found this deeply satisfying to solve. Early on, after a low-yield first pass, I simultaneously and contradictorily thought, "How am I going to do this?" and "I am going to do this!", and when I finished I similarly thought, "I DID IT!" and "How did I do that?"

Two highlights:
* Digging as deep into the POOLS of my brain as I ever have to come up with AIKEN.
* The clue for STAIRMASTER. (Hi, @Loren!)

Those one-word clues were killer (except for [Mottled]), and while I felt more turtle than hare, my solving time indicates I was actually more that latter. Contradictions, highlights, success -- swirl it all around and it translated into deeply satisfying. Grateful for the experience, Andrew!

turkeyneck

The only saving grace of this stifling Saturday are the three 11-square downs in the grid’s center. Otherwise I got CAPTAINKANGAROO on only two fills. CINCINNATTICHILI took a few more but was fairly inevitable toward the end. They still make ROLAIDS I think, maybe don't advertise them any more. WWJD replaced INRI which I had leapt at as a former altar boy. Agree with Rex about ULTIMO. Perhaps Blecch isn't strong enough. Cheers!

Anonymoose

Best laugh so far today.

The Joker

I'm pretty sure STELMO means next month.

It's time again for THIS

Nancy

@Quasi (7:28)-- I agree with you so much -- that JUKEBOX MUSICALS are a really depressing theater development. They roost in large Broadway theaters -- crowding out new and original work that ends up never getting seen. I've always thought: just turn on your stereo and listen to those old pop favorites, why don't you?

I love your droll ST ELMO'S FIRE musical suggestion. But perhaps it's not as funny as you think. I was in the BMI Musical Theater Workshop when a very talented writing team was presenting its songs for a proposed new musical called "Feeling Electric." It was to be a show about bipolar disorder and electroshock therapy. Such a fun subject! I thought it was the worst idea for a musical I'd ever heard.

It opened on Broadway with the new title "Next to Normal". It was a huge hit. That's how much I know. So, if Broadway ever reopens, I'll be watching the marquees for a musical titled "St Elmo Sizzles".

@Suzie Q (9:09) -- Thanks for your nostalgic look back at "Plop, plop, fizz, fizz." Of course their even better commercial was the "spicy, spicy meatball" one: "I can't believe I ate the whole thing."

@GILL -- WWJD stands for "What would Jesus do?" A Jewish friend had to tell you that, lol?

This was one of the best puzzles we’ve seen instant. But there were some better ones ultimo.

Nancy

@Quasi (7:28)-- I agree with you so much -- that JUKEBOX MUSICALS are a really depressing theater development. They roost in large Broadway theaters -- crowding out new and original work that ends up never getting seen. I've always thought: just turn on your stereo and listen to those old pop favorites, why don't you?

I love your droll ST ELMO'S FIRE musical suggestion. But perhaps it's not as funny as you think. I was in the BMI Musical Theater Workshop when a very talented writing team was presenting its songs for a proposed new musical called "Feeling Electric." It was to be a show about bipolar disorder and electroshock therapy. Such a fun subject! I thought it was the worst idea for a musical I'd ever heard.

It opened on Broadway with the new title "Next to Normal". It was a huge hit. That's how much I know. So, if Broadway ever reopens, I'll be watching the marquees for a musical titled "St Elmo Sizzles".

@Suzie Q (9:09) -- Thanks for your nostalgic look back at "Plop, plop, fizz, fizz." Of course their even better commercial was the "spicy, spicy meatball" one: "I can't believe I ate the whole thing."

@GILL -- WWJD stands for "What would Jesus do?" A Jewish friend had to tell you that, lol?

Mo

Golfer Arnold Palmer had an ‘army’ of fans

Foldyfish

I liked this puzzle. I came in just under my average. Very satisfying.

Bourbon Street

I confidently started to fill in Vito Corleone for 14D, quickly realized that it had one too many letters, so then I confidently changed the answer to Don Corleone. Whoops. I guess (according to AFI, at least), not giving a damn is a better quote than making someone an offer he can’t refuse. I can’t really argue about that since it’s a matter of opinion and they’re in the business of judging these things and I’m not.

Being a lover of all things feline, I liked that we had both a TOMCAT and a TIGER in the grid.

Lewis

Recently, @rex reprinted a letter petition sent to Eric Von Coelln, the head of the puzzling section of the NYT, decrying the gender gap and alleged discrimination coming from Will Shortz, and signed by some 600 people, mostly solvers, but a decent chunk of constructors also.

The Times has responded, saying it is going to be making changes to better communications between constructors, as well as diversifying and expanding the crossword editorial team.

I think the changes that the Times says it is going to make are all very good and may help women and minorities feel more comfortable submitting puzzles. Anyway there is a good article here that summarizes both the original letter/petition and the response, in case it is of any interest to you.

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice

I've been in Cincinnati, but never heard of the chili. I finished the grid with one blank space, the cross of CHI-I and STE-MO. At least I now know why they always call the Erasmus I know 'of Rotterdam'. I've checked Wikipedia, the chili seems to be Macedonian in origin. 'Ways and coneys are traditionally served in a shallow oval bowl.Oyster crackers are usually served with Cincinnati chili, and a mild hot sauce such as Tabasco is frequently available to be used as an optional topping to be added at the table. Locals eat Cincinnati chili as if it were a casserole, cutting each bite with the side of the fork instead of twirling the noodles.' So that's how you eat it. Blech. I remember ordering chili once in Chautauqua New York and finding it was beans boiled up in ketchup, or so it seemed. Equal blech. Making lots of beans these days, I got really good at it back in my 'salad' days.

Oh yeah, the puzzle. I thought an F-14 jet might be a TOuCAn, but I couldn't figure out why you'd want an N-shaped slit.

Lewis

Okay, sorry, that link didn't work. I'll give the full link, if you wish to copy and paste: https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/qjd7kx/new-york-times-crossword-constructors-are-fighting-against-its-systemic-bias .

Z

@kitshef - No links? C’mon man.
God’s Plan
Hotline Bling
The opening of that second video reminded me of this, which I share as a PSA. Besides the information, which is very useful, note the doctor’s bookshelf. That is a combination that inspires respect and trust here.

@Mike G - Dark. Funny. But dark.

puzzlehoarder

A very entertaining solve marred by an embarrassing CWJD dnf. I even had to Google WWJD when I checked the out the xwordinfo solution and saw my mistake. That one totally punked me. WHIT is a much better entry than CHIT bit it never crossed my mind.

Speaking of feeling clueless, even though I watched CAPTAINKANGAROO as a child I've never once made a connection between his name and his big pockets until I did the puzzle last night.

Not only have I never heard of that CHILI I can't spell CINCINNATI or SATELLITE either. With both words I initially doubled the wrong letter. This puzzle took me 10 minutes longer than yesterday's and I dnfed it.

At least I beat my friend Stan at the Spelling Bee last night. We were both stuck at 23 words but I was able to (spoiler alert) come up with "tommyrot." He may beat me at Scrabble every time but I can out word search him. As for today's list it's looking rather dull so far.

Anonymous

I had a stairmaster in the early 90s. Rex is right - this is a really dated clue.

Birchbark

Q. In what way does a CAR MAKER work on shoulders?

A. If the CAR MAKER moonlights as a TROOPER. Sometimes I misremember the clue placement when working the crosses, as in the southwest today, and surrealism ensues.

kitshef

Sorry, @Z - I still have a tendency to think of music as "something on the radio", rather than "something on the internet".

Barbara S.

Here's a lyric for a "CAPTAIN KANGAROO puzzle" during lockdown:

Countin' flowers on the wall
That don't bother me at all
Playin' solitaire till dawn with a deck of fifty-one
Smokin' cigarettes and watchin' Captain Kangaroo
Now don't tell me I've nothin' to do.

[The Statler Brothers]

If anyone feels like posting a link, that would be great!

Anonymous

INRI is the initials for Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews in Latin. (Iēsus Nazarēnus, Rēx Iūdaeōrum.) Per Wikipedia, the source of all knowledge (and my long-ago Catholic upbringing.) The other old joke is that it stands for "I'm Nailed Right In." I'll show myself out...

RooMonster

Hey All !
As a not-music-notation-knower, I was hung up at 1A. Having sweated and fought the rest of the puz,(especially that PAID/PEN/MERC spot [wanted faN for PEN, fAIl for PAID, but forced myself to see that FATEl wasn't a word] as don't know MERC as clued) I definitely didn't want a DNF (at the puz level, anyway, cheating [ala, looking up something you just don't know] in this situation is morally defenseable), so I Googled DACAPO. Finally saw how POOLS worked for 5D, but still perplexed at ORATOR for Stumper? clue. Someone explain so I can say, "Of course!"

WWJD = What Would Jesus Do? in case 26 others hadn't said it, and you missed it in Rex's write-up.

SE corner took some brain gymnastics to figure out. ROOK as swindle is fiendish. MIC was VCR for quite a while.

So an overall nice Themeless SatPuz. TIT for Tat, I take it for TIT clue. Aw, TITs!

One F
One ROO (although of the Hopping Ind, not the crowing kind) 😀
STAIR MASTER SHRAPNEL
RooMonster
DarrinV

mathgent

Nancy said it beautifully. Delightful puzzle. Just two or three snags on the way to a treasure chest of lovely entries.

I haven’t read the article that Lewis is referring to. Is NYT going to add a woman to Will’s staff? Of course you don’t need a woman editor to publish more women. Erik Agard has women constructors about three quarters of the time at USA Today. Ms. Burnikel appears a couple of times a week there.

I love Jersey Boys.

Definitely skewed old, not that there’s anything wrong with that (speaking of dated...). 46 D though is au courant though.

Ryan

After the Waltons and Happy Days yesterday, it's nice to see the crossword's obsession with the TV of 40+ years ago continue with CAPTAINKANGAROO.

What's next? The Hooneymooners? Ozzie & Harriet?

Anonymous

@Roo. Stump speech.

Bea

Thanks for explaining. I was confused about these three.

TJS

Started off by knowing nothing in the NW, dredged up some long-lost memory of a Don Rickles TV disaster, CPO something, giving me "adept" to "mitt,merc, arnie" and off to the races. Not Saturday level at all until finally stuck back in the NE. Who demands an aria? Thought a "combine" could be a tool, and "dacata" looked musical-ish to me, so DNF.

What has happened to the music scene when, as @kitchef says, the top recording artist, with more "Top 100" hits than the Beatles, has not one recognisable song title ? I know I am not in any artists' demographic any longer, but thinking that anyone over 60 would not have recognised an Elvis song in the 50-60 days, or a Beatles song during the 60-70 era, seems impossible. I'm not denigrating the current music being created (or most of it, anyway), but the industry surely has changed. Just beacuse of the internet?

Barbara S.

I feel it's my patriotic duty to point out that DRAKE is Canadian. But, in the interests of full disclosure, I filled in "AdelE" first. (Oops.)

There were so many misdirects in this puzzle that I found it hard, but ULTIMately delightful. Most have already been mentioned, but the following also qualify:
"Stumper?" ORATOR (stump speeches, @Roo)
"Silver for one" NATE
"Cooler" PEN
"Combines" POOLS
"What one might be represented by" INDEX FINGER -- I was sure at first that "avatar" was going to be part of that answer.

This is the first I've ever heard of CINCINNATI CHILI, and even though a lot of people have commented on it, I still don't understand what sets it apart from other forms of chili. Is it that it contains everything but the kitchen sink? Help -- enlightenment needed!

1D DOTS I assumed this was a join-the-dots picture. Had no idea about the game Rex mentions.

Conrad AIKEN and EMMA Goldman -- interesting figures of their time.

Il Tango Ultimo

ULTIMO can be another musical term: FINALE ULTIMO can mean, in musical theater, the last finale. NEWSIES has two Finale Ultimos (A Part 1 and Part 2), as does A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, A Connecticut Yankee, and Finian's Rainbow. I'm sure there are others.

Unknown

Old enough that Captain Kangaroo was one of the first things I got. Some hard slogging after that.

OffTheGrid

@Barbara S. HERE IT IS

TJS

Hey, if "A player who completes the fourth side of a 1×1 box earns one point and takes another turn." then why don't all the squares go to "B" ? Too much time on my hands.

QuasiMojo

@Nancy, (9:52am) thank you! Lol. I can't imagine buying a ticket to a show with such a theme either. But then I'm the genius who went to a very early production of "Nunsense" way Off Off Bway and was asked to invest in it. I declined, deciding it was a dud that would disappear into oblivion. I'd probably be as rich as Croesus now if I hadn't been let my "high standards" get in the way. :)

Anonymous

re 54A ST ELMO. Elmo for Erasmus isn't really "another name" but a different spelling of the same name. In English we normally leave the Latin Erasmus as Erasmus rather than a vernacular Elmo, perhaps because the name "Elmo" sounds undignified. (I think there was a comic strip with an Elmo, and Elmo was sort of stupid or naive--in sufficiently dignified for someone like Erasmus of Rotterdam. When turning Erasmus into a vernacular, the letter "s" is always a weak consonant (as we know from French especially) and is hence dropped. Drop also the vowel a and then turn the us ending into o, so that it looks more like a Romance-language word. Now all we have to do is turn the "r" to "l". These liquid dentals (?) are regularly interchanged in several Asian languages (sometimes mockingly so, in "jokes" that are now offensive). But the interchange also takes place in Romance languages (certainly quite often in Italian). This crossover seems odd to the English-language ear, I think.

Thus "St. Elmo" is no more "another name" for a beatified Erasmus than San Piero is another name for St. Peter.

Anon. i.e. Poggius

JOHN X

INRI

Jesus Nazarene Rex Judaea

JOHN X graduated high school and received his diploma on the main altar of The Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington DC. So here’s my take:

Q: What did Jesus say to the desk clerk at the Holiday Inn?
A: Can you put me up for the night?

Q: Why did Jesus flunk out of medical school?
A: He got nailed on his boards.

In truth, I learned both these dumb jokes not at the basilica, but on an atomic submarine far beneath the waves of the North Atlantic Ocean.

Heya!

Newboy

Thanks for a wonderful weekend start Andrew! Finished with the middle S in 20A and laughed mine off�� Can’t wait to see xwordinfo that probably credits the clueing authors whose amazingly consistent misdirects had me paused in ever corner of the grid. When Adele didn’t work for DRAKE, I knew I had been neglecting Spotify for Goodreads; know who he is from cultural osmosis, but can’t recall ever hearing one track?? I can see my dance card filling in with Rex yet to read, xwordinfo to visit, DRAKE to Prime Music and all the above commentariat to amuse and delight. Yard work may have to wait! I may be socially distanced, but staying engaged doesn’t seem to be a problem.

Mask up, go walk & be safe now ya hear!

jae

Easy-medium. Started off with nothing in the NW but then JUKE and RHETT opened everything up and it was pretty smooth from then on. Quite a bit more sparkle than yesterday’s, liked it.

If you’re looking for more of a Sat. challenge, I just finished a Bob Klahn puzzle from June 3, 1995. The NW through SE diagonal isn’t too bad, but the SW and NE corners were brick wallish. I missed it by one square. As always, your milage may very.

Also, a tough Friday SB.

GILL I.

Well dang, @Barbie B. Thankee, mucho. I'm going to try it now. I changed my profile picture. That's me with my homemade sock mask with my little Hadley Rose.
@kitshef 9:38....I can't remember when I stopped listening to music on the radio. I use to watch American Idol and loved all the new voices. Now they all sound the same so I've become an NPR nut. I listened to DRAKE as posted by @Z and I think I recognize his voice. I've seen pictures of him and what I most will remember is his million dollar smile......like @Nancy's. ;-)

Barbara S.

I know there are a lot of dog-lovers on this blog, so I want to recommend a film I just saw called "Buddy." It's a documentary about six service dogs and the people they help, and it's very moving. I saw it on broadcast TV but I think it might be available on Amazon Prime -- not sure of that and I don't know about other streaming services. It's a Dutch film, so the version I saw required reading sub-titles. Again, I don't know if that could be avoided if it was streamed. These dogs are amazing animals who have established life-altering and life-affirming bonds with their human partners. It's astonishing the difference they make, practically and emotionally. The film is not all sweetness and light: there's sadness and difficulty here. But all together I found it a very satisfying watch.

KnittyContessa

I couldn't wait to get to this blog to find out what the heck ARNIE's army meant. Thank you everyone for the explanation. I would have never figured that out.

I had DACAPA/AREL first. Never heard of ULTIMO. I'm still not sure if it's an English word.

@QuasiMojo @Nancy the only thing worse than JUKEBOX MUSICALS is stunt casting.
Did the world really need to see David Hasselhoff in Jeykyl & Hyde?

Bax'N'Nex

Had “Teddie” Instead of KODIAK. That gave me MUST for strong smelling secretion...like, it smells MUST-y in here...no? That’s not a thing?

Captain Kangaroo (in re-runs, I’m sure, since I’m not that old!). Was one of my favorites. Any over So. Cal.oldies here remember Hobo Kelly or Sheriff John? Was Romper Room just L.A, or nationwide? The Sesame Street of our time.

Peace and love, peace and love.

Bunny rabbit

Just a note to say that Captain Kangaroo’s pockets were much more kangaroo-like in his original navy blue jacket. Not so much in the new and more tailored red jacket. @LMS your comment about your hair morphing into the CK ‘do....hilarious! At least it is morphing into something identifiable, unlike mine!

This SatPuz had somethin for everyone …

* Desperation: TSLOT, MOL [staff weeject pick], ESTD, ULTIMO.
* Musical stuff: DACAPO, MOLTO, JUKEBOXMUSICALS, DRAKE, ARIA. Honrable mention: MIC.
* Nostalgia: CAPTAINKANGAROO, RHETTBUTLER, ROLAIDS, ARNIE. fave Cpt. Roo guest: The Banana Man [wooooowwww!].
* Mysterious [aka Mr. Ries's] food dish: CINCINNATICHILI. Crossin ROLAIDS, conveniently?
* Animal herd: CAPTAINKANGAROO, TOMCAT, KODIAK, TIGERMOTHER, DRAKE, ASS, ROOK.
* Jaws of Themelessness. Also, drawin on their porchstep-ish appearance, they are connected by STAIRMASTER.
* Symmetrical religious abbreve meat: WWJD = WhatWouldJesusDo [Not WorldWideJuvenileDelinquent -- wrong again, M&A Breath]. ESTD=EvilSatanicThirty-oneDown.
* Fun with anatomy: INDEXFINGER, TIT, ASS, TIPTOE. RHETTBUTTLER [alt. spellin].

Thanx for the tough fun, Mr. Ries. Primo mix of stuff.

**gruntz**

MR. Cheese

It must be my age. I recall a guy names Drake at the Toronto Raptor telecasts last year.
Didn’t know who he was. He did make an annoying spectacle of himself.

JeffE

Rex do you even like Crosswords?

Ernonymous

I got this done with no lookups altho technically it was a DNF, I had CARVADER cause I had AIDEN for AIKEN and VOL for MOL. I thought it might be some company like Carmax. I don't know if I would have got CARMAKER, sounds like nothing anyone says, is that an example of green paint?
I don't know music but I know Italian so I easily got DACAPO. My favorite Italian grammar book is called Da Capo. It's such a great reference it is worn out. But then I doubted that because of the 80 minutes this took me, 60 were in that NW corner. The clue for ARIA tricked me, I could think of nothing that could meet a need that started and ended in A. Then ASS seemed it should be singular but combines needed a plural so that had me perplexed.
Anyway I finally got it done, yeah I guess it does not really count die to the DNF mistake on CARMAKER , but hey I mostly got a Saturday done with no cheating.
Hope all are enjoying this fine ....what day is it? Oh yeah Saturday, so we will get the Sunday puz early!

Z

@TJS 10:51 - Look at the “8th” move more closely. Using a red so close to black to indicate the moves had me thinking there was a mistake.

@Barbara S - More on CINCINNATI CHILI. and some pictures from Gold Star Chili.

@TJS 10:47 - Some thoughts on the music scene. First, it is, like TV, far more niche now. My youngest, for example, listened almost exclusively to “Emo Pop” in high school. He got exposed to other styles and genres from his brothers and parents, but all he ever bought for himself was music in that very narrow genre. Other genres may be more widely popular, but I think the impulse of teens is to listen to a very narrow range and not step beyond that range much. Second, music popularity has always skewed young but the measurements skew it young even more now. If 13 year-old me bought a single and played it 10 times a day for a month it may have driven my mom nuts, but only counted as a single purchase. Some 13 year-old today plays their favorite single 300 times in a month on Spotify and it counts as 300 plays. As a result, some of the “huge” stars rack up some pretty big numbers, but don’t seem to reach the same sort of cultural saturation that Elvis or the Beatles or The Eagles did.
But, if you keep your eats open sometimes you run into Excellent bluegrass covers of Metallica. So there’s still hope (and I really just wanted to share that).

@Poggius - I’m starting a GoFundMe to buy you a Tickle-Me-Elmo for Christmas. My jaw still hurts from hitting the floor at your “I think there was a comic strip” comment.

While I’m here, I had to infer DA CAPO. It went something like “‘scores’ so Italian so beginning or maybe ‘head’ like capital or decapitation so CAPO maybe DeCAPO Ohhh ‘Met’ropolitan Opera why can’t New Yorkers come up with better names than calling everything ‘met’ and does that ARIA clue even work.” Whole process took at least 7 nanoseconds.

egsforbreakfast

The father of a girlfriend of mine 40 years or so ago had a bunch of pack asses, which is what he called them. He was a colorful guy, who used phrases like “it was rainin’ Billy-be-damned”. Or “no bigger than a bar of soap after a hard days wash”. One of Aesop’s Fables is The Pack-Ass, the Wild Ass and the Lion.”

Loved the puzzle. The Chicago MERC made several friends a pretty good living, and TOMCAT was T.O.M. due to TOMMYROT from Spelling Bee yesterday, although it feels like it could have been ULTIMO.

jberg

@Anonymous 11:06 -- thanks for your explanation of the erasmus-ELMO connection. I was just tickled.

I loved all the long answers, which are the main point, after all -- even those I didn't know. Never heard of CINCINNATI CHILI, but once I had the initial C _ N it had to be CINCINatti something (boy, that mistake held me up for a long time. But of course it had to be ARNIE. (All you folks who were stumped by that one are making me feel really old. I bet if I get Covid19 and go to the hospital, they'll ask me if I know that as part of their triage. I'm going to lie and say I don't, maybe that will get me in.)

I don't think anyone ever said ULTIMO, but you see it in business correspondence in old (a couple of centuries old) novels; letters tend to begin "With regard to your of the 18th ULT," -- I've never seen it spelled out, though. That's in novels -- I've never received a business letter from the 19th century, so I can't confirm that it was used IRL.

Not exactly a malapop, but something related: I had the second N of 3D and immediately checked to see if Mr. GreeNjeans would fit. It wouldn't.

As an amateur (VERY amateur) musician, I loved seeing DA CAPO, crossing ARIA up in the NW. Fun fact: sonata form developed from the da capo aria. At least, so I'm told.

old timer

An open letter to the constructor, to be mailed a week hence:

My dear Mr. Ries: Re your puzzle of the 25th ULT., may I suggest that OREL is somewhat obscure, even for a Saturday? On a list of the hundred best-known Russian towns or cities, or indeed cities anywhere, it would fail to make the cut. Unlike CINCINNATI, a place indeed renowned for its CHILI, and equally renowned for being impossible to spell. I concede that is my problem, not yours.

I close with a polite query: When constructing this parvum opus, did you hum to yourself the immortal Statlerian lines,

Counting flowers on the wall
That don't bother me at all
Playing solitaire til dawn
With a deck of fifty-one
Smoking cigarettes and watching CAPTAIN KANGAROO
Now don't tell me I've nothing to do...

(Repeat DA CAPO al fine).

Faithfully yours, Old Timer.

P.S. I saw what you did with TIT and ASS. Naughty, naughty!

Malsdemare

CINCINNATI CHILI was the first answer to fall since Graeters Ice Cream was too long. I'm from Cinci and have eaten my share of skyline, but Graeters I will kill for. Generally I head back for a visit every six weeks or so to see sisters and I take a huge cooler to fill with Graeters on the return. With our freezer empty, I broke down and ordered 12 pints to be shipped; I won't tell you what it cost but it will be worth it.

So not everyone eats chili over pasta? Do you not add shredded cheese? Chopped onions? Hot peppers? Tabasco? I'm not a Skyline fan, but Skyline style is the only way I know to eat chili.

I found the whole East side pretty easy. Of course, 10d gave me a great head start, but RHETT BUTLER was also a gimmee as was TORTE and with those 3 downs, the whole side was illuminated. For me the SW was a killer. I wanted Clem Kaddidlehopper for the CAPTAIN, and it took a while to stop perseverating on that (wrong) answer. I slogged through the NW but that SW?! I finally, in desperation cheated for the S in SAGS and that gave me SECTS, and then the rest fell. Total guess on the D in DACAPO but it made sense to me.

So a good brain workout. Some time to day I need to get on my treadmill (no STAIRMASTER here; my knees would revolt). And cut fanric for more masks. Such an exciting life.

Sir Hillary

Loved this puzzle. It has Andrew's stock in trade -- long, staggered, central downs -- and spices things up with three 15s. I love every long answer today -- even SHRAPNEL looks amazing.

Wonderful clues for STAIRMASTER, INDEXFINGER, PITTED and EDIT.

Yet again, I remain baffled by assertions of an "oldish" vibe. The STAIRMASTER has been around for 25+ years, so therefore the clue is bad? Huh?

I would have guessed that Ed Sheeran had out-streamed DRAKE.

Anonymous

Agreed that ULTIMO is archaic, but in that context it was widely-used. I'm an historian and read a great many letters written in the 19th century ... "In response to yours ULTIMO ..." sort of thing. So yes, old, but real.

The cross I found dicey was DACAPO x OREL ... I'm not a musician, and I've never heard of OREL. That O was just as likely an A - but I guessed right.

Whatsername

This was hard as Saturday always is but it really flowed smoothly. The long crosses and downs were especially satisfying. Great clues for MITT, ARIA, INDEXFINGER but I could have done without the T&A. I got stuck in the NW with AFFIRM in 4D and WHIM at 23A. Plus instead of big pockets I was thinking deep pockets and wanted someone like J R Ewing which didn’t fit, but Blake Carrington from Dynasty did. I love Air Force jets despite the window shattering noise they produce. The F-14 TOMCAT, F-15 Eagle, F-16 Falcon and my favorite, rhe A-10 Warthog. It’s the sound of freedom.

@Giovanni: Your poodles are just precious. The black one looks a lot like my little toy, Trixie. She was a rescue who had been surrendered by a hoarder. Of all the animals I have adopted, she was in the worst shape of I have ever seen. Also previously had an apricot Miniature named Max. They are such great little dogs.

CDilly52

Couldn’t agree more with @LMS this morning, especially about the absolute five star clue for STAIRMASTER and ASS! Enjoyed this crunchy Saturday solve enormously.

I got DA CAPO and DOTS right off the jump and thought I would be on a roll. Not so much. Even looking at Stumper? Question mark and all, and knowing he wanted something about making speeches, my brain would not move away from candidate, politician, politico and when I couldn’t fine anything I moved in in disgust. (With self). Brain stuck in noun mode on 15A so the last of the NW were my final fills, complete with head smack!

My big “What?!?!?!” with @Rex this morning is how he can call himself a baseball fan and not know CINCINNATI CHILI! Seriously, in these days of cable tv with ESPN broadcasting its 30 games on 30 days featuring all the MLB teams and each ballpark being so well known for its signature food, not knowing CINCINNATI CHILI is just about impossible. It is its own genre and not something one just has a bowl of, it is a meat only concoction, in my opinion more of a sauce than a “real” chili (do NOT say that to a Cincy native) and it goes on chili Mac three ways, dogs, and nachos (another Cincy creation). It is an acquired taste, but any baseball fan who has either been to Cincy or heard a broadcast of a Reds game would have heard of CINCINNATI CHILI.

Y’all have hit all the other high and low points so I won’t repeat.

But would someone explain why TIT is the start of an exchange?

Joe Dipinto
QuasiMojo

@Knitty Contessa, nothing surprises me from a show with lyrics such as

"This is the moment
This is the time
When the momentum and the moment
Are in rhyme."

:)

Don Getzin

I strongly object to 20 across and its answer. I've spent much time in mountains, but I have never seen a donkey (ass) carrying gear there. In fact, weren't donkeys (burros) once used to carry people and gear to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, and that's just the opposite of mountains? My answer, which really threw me off, was "axe," as in ice axe. Many people carry them when summiting mountains. Terrible, terrible clue and answer!

Joaquin

In honor of today's puzzle and for your listening and viewing pleasure, this from "A Chorus Line":

Anonymous

"Also, I just can't get excited about CINCINNATI CHILI, largely because I don't know what that is". All you need to know about the Rex "perspective".

John R

This one was tough for me. It took quite a while to finish. I do the puzzle on paper, so haven't started timing myself.

Like Barbara S, and Newboy I had Adele before DRAKE but was able to correct it when I got WWJD.

Saw several comments on T&A, but nothing about the positioning of the finger in the middle of the grid. I hope that was not a message from the constructor.

Carola

I loved every minute of this one, starting with DA CAPO x ARIA (we might hear some today on the Met opera's streaming at-home gala.
Favorite entry (or entree): CINCINNATI CHILI - which, when eaten in Cincinnati, can be followed by some Graeter's ice-cream, aka food of the gods. I also liked remembering that RHETT BUTLER was also a CAPTAIN and imagining what the relationship between aTOM CAT TIGER MOTHER might be like.

@Ry 6:47 - After you pointed out TIT and ASS, I noticed that the potentially groping MITT is thankfully separated from both.

Help from previous puzzles: DRAKE, OREL (after "Let's see, not ORan, not ORem, but...")

bauskern

Once again rex manages to take a solid crunchy puzzle, on a beautiful saturday morning, and turn it into a whine-fest. Because he has never heard of cincinnati chili. this was a doozy, especially the NW corner, but STUMPER made me laugh out loud. I was thinking AXEMAN for a long time.

Mohair Sam

So for you snoots amount us: Think spaghetti Bolognese. Take out the wine, sugar, and the crushed tomatoes. Replace with cinnamon and a can of kidney beans. Cover the dish with a lot of cheddar and you've got your CINCINNATICHILI. I love 'em both.

Good Bolognese takes half a day to make right, Good Cincinnati takes half an hour. I read that Josephine Baker loved Spaghetti Bolognese, btw. Don't know her take on the chili.

And I too know DRAKE only as that annoying wanna be hoopster in the front row at Raptors' games. No DRAKE, I didn't tune into this NBA game to see you.

Terrific Saturday puzz. Loved the cluing, loved the range of answers, and love me that chili. Many thanks.

The Joker

Learning about spinoff groups is SECTS education.

Anonymous

A tit for tat exchange.

David

Da Capo was a gimme and got Captain Kangaroo right off it. Sorry, big pockets and old TV. Obvious to us olds.

Cincinnati Chili is so named because it will never, ever, be welcome in Texas: made with the wrong meat, has BEANS in it(!), chili powder (!!) and then is served on spaghetti!!! It might not fly in Texas, but it's fun to have at least once in one's life. Maybe even more.

I was shocked to see LMS say the recipe she used had chocolate in it because many of us use chocolate in "real" chili. The last batch of chili paste I made to can and put up in the larder had a proprietary mix of ancho, chpotle, guajillo, pasilla, arbol, and cascabel chilis along with onion and garlic, salt and pepper, and, finally, a bit of unsweetened bakers chocolate. It's yummy.

I had way more roadblocks in the small words than the long ones. Except for Jukebox Musicals, never heard that term and it really had me questioning Index Finger until I got more of the crosses. My favorite clue was for Stairmaster.

Yeah. Car Maker? No thanks. All I could remember from kidhood was Revell, and that wouldn't work. Car Maker was the last thing I filled.

GILL I.

I just looked up TIGER MOTHER because I've never heard the term. I certainly see how it could be useful - particularly if your ancestors are Asian. The belief that you must be well educated so that you earn a decent living and take care of your parents is appealing and makes sense. I wasn't one, but yet I would never think twice about taking care of my Mom in her dwindling years. I don't believe in shaming but if I don't like a recipe you tried and it was a failure...I will tell you, dear daughter. That's why you are such a good cook now.
Which brings me to that CINCINNATI CHILI. Good gravy - and sorry to all of you lovers of the stuff - but I wouldn't put that on my hot dog nor my spaghetti even if I hadn't eaten in a month. I really want to hear from some Italians out there...
And speaking of Italians...@Giovanni. Yay...an avatar. I love poodles. We house/ pet sit at my best friend's place in Auburn at least once a year while she goes galavanting somewhere in Europe. She has a Standard. Her Belle died last year and I cried for a month. She now has Tara. They are the smartest dogs (other than Shepards) on this earth. Well...most pups are smart. We have two little mutties we got at 6 weeks old that are part miniature poodle and part doxie. Smart and willful.....

Doc John

<a href="https://youtu.be/q3w7w58CREY>CAPTAIN KANGAROO theme song</a>

Monty Boy
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CT2Napa

Da Capo live at Ibiza

Joe Dipinto

Whatsername

@David(1:58) I agree about the chocolate in the chili. Not every time but I often add unsweetened chocolate or cocoa. Gives it a distinctive taste that I like.

I had never heard of CINCINNATICHILI but it sounds delicious. The Steak ‘n Shake restaurant chain offers a version of it called Chili Five Ways which is spaghetti topped with chili, extra chili beef, special chili sauce, shredded cheese, and diced onions. It’s excellent, but I rarely order it because I can never resist the cheeseburgers and shakes when I go in there. I look forward to the days when we can all sit down at a restaurant again and order our favorite guilty indulgence.

BBPDX

My memory trick for INRI is that it’s an acronym for a Jesus quote from the cross:
“I’m Nailed Right In”. Much harder to remember the actual Latin phrase it represents.

rochdale

Cincinnati Chili fell right away for me too if only because that would be the only "food" thing that southern Ohio (or Ohio for that matter) would be known for--I'm from Toledo. I thought of INRI as well, but then saw the bracelet. I always think of Joyce joking in Ulysses that is stood for "Iron Nails Ran In).

Sotirios Bulgari

Funny, but I've never know a bracelet to be either religious or specifically non-religious. They're pretty much inanimate things, just hanging around. Not much for the transcendental.

Ernonymous

@whatshername these 2 poodles have passed on I'm sad to say. The black one died July 2019 at 16 years old. The white one was a rescue, named Andy after Raggedy Andy because that's what the SPCA named him because he was so matted and raggedy. He was the sweetest dog ever, he got suddenly sick and there was nothing to be done to help him so it was unexpected and I'm still not over losing him at only 11 years old.
I rescued a caffè au lait toy last year, she was in a puppy mill with heart worm and popping out puppies, skinny, matted, injured when she showed up at the pound. She was 8 when she came here and I know her life is so different than what she suffered for 8 years. Her heartworms were so bad she has severe damage to her heart and lungs and is on 4 pills a day, including Viagra for her pulmonary artery. Your dogs sound adorable. The black and white were miniatures, my dog now is a toy. She has helped me a lot from losing Andy.

DigitalDan

Might I suggest that the comment about Cincinnati Chile is Regionalist?

Dave S

Could kick myself for my dearth of knowledge of four letter Russian cities, knowing even one of which wold have made this much easier, but the clues for StairMaster, trooper, fly catcher and others made this good fun. Yup, it skews old, but Arnie Palmer should certainly be remembered, and, as others have pointed out Captain Kangaroo got his name from his big pockets, and just having the second half of his name there should have been a gimme for many. Loren Muse Smith's, um, musings are wonderful as always, but Cincinnati Chili is loathsome.

BobL

Nice commentary today. No politics!

Ernonymous

@gillI. My toy poodle from the puppy mill is a poor specimen of her breed. She has short legs and a very long back. Her profile on petfinder was listed as a Doxie Poo (half poodle half dachsund) she is actually full poodle. I took her to the dog park and a little kid said: oh look a Hotdog Poodle! Ha ha ha so That's what you have!

TheKnittyContessa.Etsy.Com

@QuasiMojo Through no fault of my own I saw The Hoff's performance. At the highly dramatic point when Jekyl transforms into Hyde the audience audibly laughed before realizing it wasn't meant to be funny.

Birchbark

Amazing Archive Puzzle ("AAP"), if you're interested: April 1, 2002. It's a Monday, of all things, but took almost twice my normal Monday time to solve. Not because the clues were too difficult -- I just couldn't believe it, and thinking about it slowed me down in a good way.

Also -- I made a ton of progress in the ongoing battle to clean and organize the outside garage today. Atoning for long (if benign) neglect in this way is better than a STAIRMASTER. At least that's what a whole caboodle of forgotten muscles are telling me right now.

Barbara S.

@OffTheGrid 10:51
Thanks for the link. They sing it with such gusto that that song always gives me a chuckle (despite the dark undertones of tragedy and waste.) ;-)

@Z 12:19
OK. I'm ready to place my order now:
1 Chilly Cheese Sandwich
1 Garlic Parmesan Fries
Oh, and a bag of Lay's (although I much prefer Miss Vickie's) --
And make it snappy!

I've decided that CINCINNATI CHILI is completely over the top, but appropriately so -- hooray for party food!

@Joe Dipinto 12:53
I loved the music, but when watching Glenn Gould I never know if he looks like a safecracker listening for clicks or a jeweler examining a diamond. And did you notice how his hands signal "halt" and "pray" before that final collapse into self. Strange guy, singular musician.

Ti OverNamed

I came here just to see if my reaction to "ultimo" was warranted. I leave satisfied.

Anoa Bob

I thought the clue for 20A ASS, "One may be packed for a trip to the mountains", was fine. I can easily imagine ASSes being used to transport gear to a base camp, say.

I vividly remember the mules (ASS and horse offspring) that were used to transport people and gear into and out of the Grand Canyon. They were huge! I'd been around mules growing up in rural Tennessee and I'd never seen any that big. Then later I read that all the Grand Canyon mules were from one breeder in Tennessee. Don't know if they still use mules these days.

I was surprised to see STAIRMASTER at 16D. I didn't think it was that widely known. We have a well-used one in our local gym. I can attest that the STAIR MASTER can be a stern taskmaster!

chefwen

Nobody has mentioned Candy Dots. My grandma lived near a penny candy store in La Crosse WI, candy dots, the kind that you’d have to peel off the paper with your teeth was my go to candy of choice when we were allowed to mosey on down there. Not a treat you’d want to share these days.

Loved the puzzle, puzzle partner got CINCINNATI CHILI right away, I came up with CAPTAIN KANGAROO and we were off to the races.
I’m among the mini kitty loving group.

A no cheat Saturday, the best kind.

JC66

@Anoa Bob

I thought of your when I did the VOX puzzle today.

Nancy

@GILL (11:19) -- What a lovely thing to say!!! Thank you!

Whatsername

@Giovanni: It is so hard to lose them, that’s the only downside of having a pet. But they each leave a unique place in our hearts. Sounds like your Andy might have had Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia. I lost a little Silky Terrier to that a few years ago. So devastating because they are healthy one day, and dying the next. I changed my profile picture so you can see both of mine. The white one is a Yorkie I got from a puppy mill at age 9 when she got too old to breed. She was dirty and matted but was in good health overall. Quite a challenge that was, as I’m sure you know, but she is an angel.

Monty Boy
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Z

OREL as a Russian town instead of Hershiser got me wondering where the search for creativity might lead clue writers. Now I have to see if this show is streaming somewhere for when “Moral _____” is the clue.

On a related note, @OffTheGrid’s link led me eventually to this. That the YouTube algorithm knew I would love that tune is kinda scary. I was listening to blue grass covers of Wilco earlier today, and somehow that and the Statler brothers spit out Steve Martin. If I do Prince next maybe the algorithm will be confused.

Anoa Bob

Thanks for the heads-up @JC66. Haven't seen my spirit animal in a grid for a long time, so was surprised that part of the clue for ANOA used "often appears...in crosswords." The "small" part was correct. It is deer-sized (the smallest of the buffalo), so it is too small to be used as a draft animal. So the classic clue for ANOA, "Celebes ox" is questionable at best, since an "ox" is traditionally an adult castrated male bovine used as a draft animal (never gonna happen for an ANOA) and anyway, "Celebes" these days is known as Sulawesi, part of Indonesia. A good clue I think would be along the lines of "Deer-sized buffalo of Indonesia".

Lewis

I second @birchbank 4:26 (and thank you, sir, for recommending it)! It's quite amazing. It takes no time to do. Do it!

Monty Boy

I'm gonna die tryin' to get this right.

On Xword clues

BarbieBarbie

@DonGetzen, nope, miners used to use donkeys all the time. In fact, in the Andes there are wild donkeys who are there because when pickups became available donkeys weren’t necessary, so they were just turned loose.

Joe Dipinto

@Barbara S – re Glenn Gould: well, he was Canadian. :–) Yes, and as I was watching the video I also started to wonder how, as a notorious hypochondriac, he would be able to cope with the CoVid-19 situation if he were still around now.

(Oh, I can tell it's 7:00. You know, I'm sorry, I have huge respect for our medical personnel working night and day to save lives, but I think this going outside to clap and scream "WOOOOO-HOOOOOO!!!" every night at 7 is stupid and annoying. It even seems weirdly inappropriate, to be cheering as if at some sporting event. It was cool for a week at most – *maybe" – but really, can we stop now? Or at least limit it to one day a week?)

Barbara S.

@birchbark and Lewis
Intricate!

Ernonymous

@whatshername wow they are so cute and the poodle does look look mine, with the old white eyebrows! Its good you also got an older dog from a puppy mill. Glad he is healthy. Andy developed large growths in his colon/ rectum and couldn't go to bathroom. He was in horrible pain but surgery was even more painful/not a good option for an old guy so I had to put him down after his last night he was in agony and they couldn't help him medically but it all happened over just a few weeks.

The big-pocketed character on the Captain Kangaroo show was THE BANANA MAN. This was a terrible error in my book.

Z

It’s math
Not actually puzzle related but you may laugh.

Nancy

@Joe Dipinto (7:22) -- My problem with the whole screaming out the window thing at 7 p.m. is the "if a tree falls in the forest and there's no one to hear it" matter. I'm not near any hospital and I doubt too many doctors and nurses are going to be taking a stroll down my street just as I'm shouting. So all I would do is annoy my neighbors and get laryngitis while the people I'm applauding for remain blissfully unaware. The same is probably true for 98% of shouters.

Just did the Sunday puzzle (no spoilers) and I loved it! Details tomorrow.

Runs with Scissors

@CDilly earlier . . .

Tit for tat.

Anonymous

Nobody rides an ass into the Grand Canyon.

Michael

Joyless drudgery, I'd like my 45 minutes back.

Richardf8

This grid was full of dad-joke clues, which warmed me to it greatly. Loved the clue for TORTE. could not help noticing the T&A in the grid and was puerilely amused. Wife looked at the completed grid and said “Hmm. TIPTOE through the SHRAPNEL with me?”

Joe Dipinto

@Nancy – that's exactly it. If you're near a hospital, all well and good – at least the recipients of your tribute might be aware of it. But, like you, I live on a residential block far from any medical center. It feels like a horror movie where everyone suddenly turns into a mindless zombie for two minutes every night.

Giskarrrd

That was a tough one. I somehow blanked on the Mercantile Exchange, thinking that MERC certainly couldn’t be an abbreviation for the Merchandise Mart...

I still don’t get PEN for cooler, anyone care to explain?

Z

@Giskarrrd - Both slang for a jail cell.

kqrbob

Can I join? Black raspberry chocolate chunk, please!

pdplot

I haven't paid for a haircut since 1955 when the price went up from 55 cents to 85 cents at the Houston Hall barber (butcher) shop. Been using a Playtex hair cutter. Uses double edge razor blades. I tried to get the license for it - never succeeded.

Lawyerina

I seem to be the only person who doesn't understand how SAM is a cousin of cream cheese????

Giskarrrd

Assuming you mean the Sunday puzzle, it’s not SAM, it’s MASCARPONE - read SAM backwards because you’re following the direction of the arrow, the CAR is in the “tunnel” and the PONE is around the corner of said tunnel...

Giskarrrd

Doh, thanks Z!

LenFuego

So the puzzle is fine, but look, I thought there was a tacit agreement that there is a rule that when a clue is getting cute with its use of a word, i.e., it is being used in a phrase that would lead you to believe it was using a different definition, there will be a question mark at the end. If you are following that rule, at least the following clues should have had them:

Relief pitcher of old (pitcher means marketer, not a baseball player)
Met demand, maybe (Met refers to the NY venue, not the past tense of meet)
Model company (model means producing car models, not ideal)
One sometimes working on a shoulder (shoulder refers to a road, not a body)

A few other clues are closer calls but also arguably violate the rule (scores in "From the beginning, in scores", fly in "fly catcher" and "one" in "What one might be represented by"). And the "One may be packed for a trip to the mountains" clue also misleads in a similar way, but a bigger complaint is that it misleads far more by using "to" instead of "in" -- nobody rides an ass *to* the mountains, they ride one *in* the mountains.

Look, if you are a constructor or editor and do not want to follow the rule, I am totally cool with that, but then do not use it on other clues, like "Stumper?" or "Service that's out of this world?" or "Flight simulator?". That signals to solvers that you are honoring the rule. You have to earn your Saturday difficulty level, not obtain it by confusing the solver through inconsistent use of question marks.

On the good side: "Text massage" is an absolutely terrific clue for 'edit', and personally I love the inclusion of CINCINNATICHILI -- I am not from Ohio but I love the stuff, and have even made it for my dinner and a movie night crew.

Unknown

C'mon
He was called Captain Kangaroo because of the pockets.
Same actor, Bob Keeshan (sp?) Played Clarabelle on the Howdy Doodie show

Anonymous

Ultimo. When I was a young lawyer in the late sixties in Toronto, it was the fashion for older lawyers to say in a letter to another lawyer - in reply to your letter of the 19th ultimo...I thought it odd then and still do.

chipschap

I don't know what Rex likes any longer. Maybe nothing. Constant griping.

I do the puzzle with the intention of enjoying it and much more often than not--- I enjoy it.

This one had a couple of things that I just couldn't get, like WWJD crossing with Drake. But it had a lot of fun. CINCINNATICHILI, CAPTAINKANGAROO, JUKEBOXMUSICAL ... I loved it.

Jasa Sablon Jogja

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Thank you, hope you are always healthy

John R

I just ran into ULTIMO in an old puzzle - Sunday December 31, 2006. Rex didn't like it then either.

Unknown

I’m six weeks behind but Captain Kangaroo was named that because of his big pockets that he pulled stuff from during the show. That was my gimme clue.

spacecraft

Tough nut for me to crack; on first read-through, I knew ILIE, period. That's where I started. Then as I began working the east I saw letters suggesting CINCINNATI at 10d, though what came after that I had no idea. And what does a concierge hand out besides a MAP? That gives me ____PN__ for the shell pieces: aha, SHRAPNEL! Then after back-forming ROLAIDS (clue groan), I had RH--yeah sure, frankly, my dear, etc. That opened things up and I was able to finish--guessing correctly the Natick at #6. Figured it was A or O, so because CAPO reminded me of The Godfather, I picked O. Yay!

A near'DNF occurred in the SW, when for a while I had TROllER. MlL looked fine (milliliter), but how is a TAlE hard to refute? Soon it was easy to SEE that it was TAPE, thus TROOPER. MOL I never heard of, but I left it.

So, substantial triumph points for finishing. I did like the way the STAIRMASTER connected the black-square "stairs." 20- and 37-a (2/3 of a great figure!) have been mentioned; pick your favorite EMMA for DOD. I'll take Watson. Liked it better than OFC, despite EKES. Birdie.

Burma Shave

MAKER ATTEST

OLAV, ARNIE, and RHETTBUTLER
were TOMCATs with big MITTs:
During SECTS with TIGERMOTHER
just one FINGER touched her TITs.

--- EMMA AIKEN

rondo

@spacey - MOLecule.

First time I found CINCINNATI(5-way)CHILI was in a cookbook back when I had to make rice and spaghetti noodles stretch. Loved then, love it now. When usde in combo with all of the ways you can get Waffle House CHILI, well a starvin', support payin' young man had good eats for cheap-ish; I can ATTEST to it. No write-overs, but not particularly easy. Yup, EMMA Watson yeah baby.

TROOPERs and all, Minneapolis - and to a somewhat lesser extent ST. Paul - burns. Looters have STOLEN stores bare in an HOUR or two. It puts Mpls on the MAP in a bad way. Ugly and sad.

Diana, LIW

Didn't think I'd come anywhere near finishing, but bit by bit. As @Spacey says, "substantial triumph points" for this!

Diana, LIW

As @Spacey said, major "triumphpoints" for this one.

Diana, LIW

Anonymous

@rondo --

You say that "Minneapolis... burns", that the looters stole the "stores bare in an hour or two", and that "it puts Mpls on the map in a bad way". I'm sure you know there's more to it than a matter of burning, looting, and putting the city in a bad light. And more sure you know a police officer put his knee on George Floyd's neck until he was near-dead, and died shortly after.

Since you decide to comment on this outrage, you might have said bit more or not have commented on it all.

--Born and raised in Minneapolis

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