Bygone Buick / SAT 6-13-20 / Classic bit of groanworthy wordplay / Hyperbolic figure / Supposed sightings off coast of Norway / Annual e-sports competition since 1996 / Motor contests with portmanteau name / Opera with noted triumphal march

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Constructor: Trenton Charlson

Relative difficulty: Medium (8-ish)

THEME: none

Word of the Day: XIANGQI (39D: So-called "Chinese chess") —
Xiangqi (Chinese象棋pinyinxiàngqíEnglish: /ˈʃɑːŋi/), also called Chinese chess, is a strategy board game for two players. It is one of the most popular board games in China, and is in the same family as Western (or international) chesschaturangashogiIndian chess and janggi. Besides China and areas with significant ethnic Chinese communities, xiangqi is also a popular pastime in Vietnam, where it is known as cờ tướng.
The game represents a battle between two armies, with the object of capturing the enemy's general (king). Distinctive features of xiangqi include the cannon (pao), which must jump to capture; a rule prohibiting the generals from facing each other directly; areas on the board called the river and palace, which restrict the movement of some pieces (but enhance that of others); and placement of the pieces on the intersections of the board lines, rather than within the squares. (wikipedia)
• • •

Did CAVEMEN make this? Like, nerdy CAVEMEN who are way too into games and puns and Scrabbly letters and who seem completely unaware of the existence of women? This was a dude puzzle for dudes filled with dude things and absolutely no references to women unless you wanna go ahead and count a fictional female rabbit as a woman. UNREAL. Oh, sorry, I overlooked also-fictional MEG. She's just three letters and all tucked away down there. Anyway ... I see that you are really into Scrabbly letters and groanworthy wordplay and some e-sports thing ... I'm just gonna go ... stand over here now, thanks, bye. The whole vibe on this just wasn't for me. Not badly constructed, just kind of blah and without any real sparkle or breadth of cultural reference (beyond the Chinese chess thing). I didn't have too much trouble with it except in the west in general, and the southwest in particular. Really resented EXFBI, which feels very much not a thing (38A: Like some private eyes). I read a lot (Lot) of private eye novels; I have taught courses in crime fiction at the undergraduate and graduate level. I am sure that some actual, and maybe some fictional, private eyes used to be in the FBI, but I reject that as a *definitive* thing, and I kinda reject the very "word" EXFBI. Getting that off the -BI was probably the hardest thing about the puzzle, especially since that "I" came on the horrid crosswordese Saw sequel SAWII, which I thought ... maybe was SAWIV (I *saw* none of them). Not knowing a single letter of XIANGQI was probably the thing that slowed me most in that corner, but the thing that annoyed me most was damn sure EXFBI. That, and my stupid failure to spell ELYSIAN correctly on the first try (ELESIAN!? What was I thinking?) (38D: Heavenly).

Weird experience up top to start, where I had LION over ACRE over WEGO and absolutely no idea what the first three letters of *any* of those answers was. Wrote in HELLION (!) at one point for 1A: Hyperbolic figure (ZILLION). Somehow thought there could be a TWO-ACRE lot; wasn't sure from the "?" clue if an adj. or noun was called for (15A: Quite a lot?). Wanted only "HERE WE GO!" for 17A: "And so it begins!" ("OFF WE GO!"). Didn't get any of that stuff until late, when I finally figured out TOM SWIFTY (the very name made me ugh) and worked my way up (32A: Classic bit of groanworthy wordplay). Had "BE REAL" before "UNREAL" (28A: "No way!"). In other parts of the grid, I had no idea what a XEROPHYTE was (8D: Plant suited to an arid environment), so was heavily reliant on crosses. Wanted ODDBALL before ODDDUCK (13D: Weird type). ROADEOS is a superdumb thing I don't believe is real any more than I believe ROLEOS are real and so that answer can get bent (14D: Motor contests with a portmanteau name). Couldn't be less interested in "e-sports competition"s if I tried, and EVO is evo-cative of precisely nothing, so that was unpleasant. And I just could not wrap my brain around the phrasing of the clue at 33D: Accelerate in the process (FAST TRACK). It was the "in" ... I couldn't make it work. I think the clue actually probably works better as just [Accelerate]. The prepositional phrase just makes it clunky and awkward.

OK, on to Sunday.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

    [Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


    Ernonymous 12:18 AM  

    I didnt like the METIER AD REM crossing since I've heard of either. I had ROTONDA but changed it to ROTUNDA at the very end. I was shocked when the music played when I changed the V for Ad Rev to M so this was hard for me. But no cheats 1 hour 34 minutes. I don't give up..I figure I'll get it eventually.
    Im very pleased with my new hobby.

    Good thing we had Tom Swifty in a recent puzzle as I'd never heard of that either before then. Good thing Rex went on a rant about them!

    Then about an hour into it, I remembered that this is the constructor that has a fetish with Z X and Q so I was on the lookout for Q which helped me a ton.
    I think Rex isnt impressed with him using The X Z and Qs in his puzzles.
    Anyway, I thought it was hard. I'm going to drink something to celebrate cracking this one. CIAO!

    Frantic Sloth 12:32 AM  

    Uh oh. The TOMSWIFTY is back. Calm yourselves, people. 😁

    Aside from that, what a happy trudge through challengeville this was! It was just enough slow-going so I had to really think about almost every clue/answer while not being discouraged by utter frustration.
    Tough, but fair.
    It was over way too "soon". Well, 25 minutes was "soon" for me on such a worthy foepuzz.

    And nary a nit (Hi, @Whatsername!) was found that day. Wheeee!


    Joaquin 12:35 AM  

    @Rex - I really don't get your ranting today. Just what makes this "a dude puzzle for dudes filled with dude things"?

    There are three named females and one named man; there are several activities and several adjectives that could apply equally to men and women; and most of the fill is generic (gender-wise). I suppose one could argue that CAVEMEN is in the "dude" category but out here in the real world, folks say "caveman" when they mean any person from that pre-historic time.

    Unknown 12:52 AM  

    Marine and aquatic don’t mean the same thing and saying ‘say’ doesn’t make them mean the same thing. Plenty of other ways to lead a horse to salt water which it wont drink. 🤮

    mathgent 12:54 AM  

    This one rang all my bells. Only 14 Terrible Threes, seventeen red plus signs in the margins (the most since I started keeping track three months ago), exactly half of the entries were six letters or more (the average is around 30 percent), and I learned what METIER means. Wow! What a great piece of work.

    I had an error at 8D, AEROPHYTE instead of XEROPHYTE. They are synonyms. I knew that AFACTOR couldn’t be right but I kidded myself into thinking that it might mean something in French.

    On Jeff Chen, the constructor wrote that the editors changed his great clue for TOMSWIFTY. I can’t remember it completely but it ends “...Captain Ahab wailed.” What a pity.

    Richardf8 1:23 AM  

    Sometimes you have to be grateful for the little things. I, for example, was grateful that “Grand ending?” was CRU and not dee.

    jae 1:29 AM  

    Medium. I discovered that we actually own a Scrabble set while I was cleaning out the attic today. Wonder what brought that to mind? Plenty to like here, nice one Trenton. I obviously liked this quite a bit more than @Rex did.

    okanaganer 1:43 AM  

    "The Pantheon in Rome has one": BIG ROUND HOLE IN THE ROOF! aka OCULUS which is too short but should have been the answer. Yes, the rain falls inside the building.

    Many many buildings have a veranda, including the house I grew up in, so unexciting detail. "The Pope has one" == NOSE.

    puzzlehoarder 2:04 AM  

    This felt right on the nose for a Saturday.

    XEROPHYTE went right in but I couldn't be sure of XFACTOR until I remembered CRU.

    I think ZOOMOUT was my first entry.

    Prior to it's recent appearance as a theme I had never heard the term TOM SWIFTY so that was a lucky break.

    ODDBALL/ODDDUCK and IGOTYOU/IGOTCHA were my only write overs.

    I always enjoy seeing METIER in a puzzle. It reminds me of how Jack Nicholson says it in "Chinatown."

    I'm still working a lot and shouldn't be staying up so late. I didn't get a chance to solve the Friday puzzle until right before I did this one.

    manitou 2:05 AM  

    You left out AIDA.

    I don't get what makes this so overwhelmingly masculine. FLOPSY and MEG and AIDA are female; TOMSWIFTY and CAVEMEN are male. (I'm pretty sure Tom Swifty is just as fictional as Flopsy.) That seems to be the extent of the gendered answers.

    Why are Scrabbly letters for dudes? Or puns? I would imagine EVO players skew male, but I certainly hope women are welcome to play as equals. To me, that's kind of like saying "basketball" is male and "baking" is female.

    I see that 3 of the entries are about cars, but the only person I know that owns a GTO is a woman. I've known two private eyes — one a woman and one a man.

    As a feminist, I applaud your vigilance on this issue, especially regarding women constructors. But, just as we strive for equality in historically male-dominated things like crossword puzzles, let's do the same for roadeos and e-sports. Heck, if our police departments were equally female and male, a lot of this damn brutality would go away.

    Kevin 4:29 AM  

    He just likes to complain about sexism, real or imagined. I wish he would stop. He just makes it easier for people to write off real instances as crying wolf. He is hurting the cause.

    TJS 4:32 AM  

    Great Saturday challenge. Everytime I thought "please don't be this" it wasn't. Best in a long time.

    Diver 6:05 AM  

    Loved this one. A lot of misdirection for me so a few aha's in there. Almost a pangram, but alas, no "J". 13 minutes flat and 3/4 cup of coffee. One acre isn't quite a lot; your fat cat power elite have garages bigger than that.

    GILL I. 6:09 AM  

    Well there's this whole wheelhouse/outhouse thing that seems to get me on Saturdays. I had a little of both today. I had to use the outhouse a few times because I never knew that your cakehole was a TRAP. My cakehole (ahem) is chocolate frosting.
    So we move right along to plants. I would never buy a plant named XEROPHYTE because I wouldn't know how to water it. I thought maybe the honeycreeper might be another viney plant but it turns out it's a bird! TANAGERs are cool beans. I think we have the yellow ones here in Sacramento.
    Ah, yes. Thank you TOM SWIFTY and your "I need a candy bar," Tom snickered. Let the AGUE begin.
    I'm betting @pablo's first entry was EL PRADO. @Rex going on about no existence of women in this here puzzle. "Las Meninas" is all about "lady-in-waiting." Velazquez was a cool dude- he knew how to work with mirrors.
    Yes, EX FBI had the itches in the scalp going. I had to look that one up. I don't know any other than Robert Mueller and how agent orange wanted him fired. I'm pretty sure there was no SWEET TALK between them
    Another uh oh was that XIANGQI. I wonder how you play Chinese chess.
    Loved the KRAKEN and I squealed with delight for getting it off the K. My favorite rendition is a drawing of one in Jules Verne's "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.'
    Why do we take the names of animals and make them idiosyncratic?. ODD DUCK, strange fish, or if you want to get all Frenchy you can say canard etrange.
    Not a bad Saturday and I learned how to forget the new words I didn't know.

    ChuckD 6:50 AM  

    Don’t agree with Rex’s vacuous claim of dude centered - but am all in on the idea that this is scrabble in grid form. It actually played pretty easy for me - I got the XEROPHYTE/SWEETTALK crossing right away and a lot of it fell in after that. We’ve had enough TOM SWIFTY - keep him out. Liked TANAGER and CRU - but overall not my bag.

    Lewis 6:59 AM  

    This was the perfect counter to yesterday's light fantastic puzzle. Today's dispensed with the wordplay, for the most part, and focused on direct toughness -- out-of-everyday-language answers, as well as vague and misdirecting clues, and, for me, true grit in the SE.

    I loved yesterday's and I love today's, two opposite type themeless that belong together, like the Earth and moon.

    Thank you, TC. My favorite answers were METIER and ODD DUCK, and I thought "My LEFT ARM" would make a nice sequel to the Daniel Day-Lewis classic.

    BarbieBarbie 7:02 AM  

    MET and also METIER. Hm.
    A fun thing about this puzzle is how differently it plays for different people. For me the bottom third went in easily and I struggled with the top. Overall, fair crosses and crunchy mid length and long stuff. The shorter stuff was pretty AGUE-y.

    QuasiMojo 7:12 AM  

    I really enjoyed doing this puzzle. No real issues. Lots to chew on. A tasty treat.

    Rex, the term "ex-FBI" was all over the news just last month regarding Robert Levinson who disappeared in Iran. CBS News used it. The Boston Globe too. And a casual glance at a website listing published private detectives in mystery novels (sorted by METIER) mentions dozens of "ex-FBI" agents as lead characters in current novels. Plus a large number of them are women. Perhaps you need to move beyond Chandler and Hammett. Plus the clue could have referred to real-life private eyes.

    Not to NITPICK, but while the Kraken is also fictional (SORTA) and is usually described as a "he" in literary works, one has to assume that there are also female krakens or else the squid-like species would have died out many millennia ago.

    OffTheGrid 7:24 AM  

    Attention animal lovers:

    The ASPCA DOES NOT operate shelters. Donate to a nearby shelter, not the ASPCA. Thank you.

    pabloinnh 7:28 AM  

    Really liked this one, just had to change ODDBALL to ODDDUCK, and some things required just enough thought to be satisfying. Hola GILL I-Didn't put ELPRADO in first because I started somewhere else but it certainly made me smile. "Las Meninas" has to be one of the most amazing pictures ever painted, and seeing it in El Prado is something everyone should do once. Just wow.

    Learned the mysterious XIANGQI which, as OFL points out, takes every cross. That is definitely a Scrabble rack I would trade in.

    Very nice stuff, TC. I could do this OTRA vez and still enjoy it. Thanks for all the fun.

    Hungry Mother 7:44 AM  

    A slow go, but not too sloggy today. Nice to see X and Q. Very nice Saturday challenge.

    mmorgan 8:17 AM  

    Rex is not incorrect, but for me, I always enjoy getting things I had absolutely no idea about — such as XEROPHYTE or XIANGQI and various other things in the puzzle. So I still had a satisfying experience and was quite pleased and surprised to see Mr Happy Pencil.

    Nancy 8:27 AM  

    I blazed through the NW and thought it would be too easy for a Saturday, but it got harder. It took me forever to see EX FBI when I had that baffling ---BI for "like some private eyes". And though I use the phrase "je ne sais quoi" quite often, I had a reverse DOOK for the answer: with -FA---- as my fill, I kept seeing "OF A ----" instead of X FACTOR. (Lovely answer for a lovely clue.) Never heard of XEROPHYTE and XIANGQI was a real "Huh??" Also have no idea what KRAKENS are.

    I had ORG- written in, but hadn't read the clue yet. Imagine my surprise in thinking that the "Sch yearbook section" might be ORGY.

    A very nice puzzle. Yesterday's gem is a hard act to follow and the cluing here isn't quite as wonderful, but the fill is lively -- what with SWEET TALK, FAST TRACK, METIER, X FACTOR, TOM SWIFTY and the lovely portmanteau ROADEOS. Quite enjoyable.

    Lorelei Lee 8:29 AM  

    Either the SB is right and I'm a genius or the NYT puzzle is just easier now. Gonna go with easier.

    Fell for none of the misdirects (they were pretty obvious) and the whole thing shoud've been fun for kids of all ages with the dearth of pop culture.

    Cheated in the NE corner. Xfactor is dumb. Please don't tell me this is the best Enlish translation we have for the beautiful Je ne sais quoi. Be interesting to see Xfactor translated into German though. It'd really knock the lace off je ne sais quoi.

    Don't understand the guy puzz accusation. Which of these words am I not supposed to know?

    Z 8:32 AM  

    I end up on the “not terrible” side of the equation, but some of the “ughs” put me in doubt. THE POCs aren’t really excessive, but NEONS and KRAKENS and APOGEES certainly made it feel excessive. And I would be fine if the movie series in the “torture porn” genre stopped appearing in my puzzles. And, yeah, XIANGQI looks like a middle finger to solvers to me. I am familiar with Go and that the strategy involved is complex. I’d missed the existence of XIANGQI so far.

    We had XEROscape awhile back, which helped today with XEROPHTYE. Unlike @Giovanni, I had the merest of hiccough at AD REM/METIER. Both are learned from crosswords entries here (for future reference, “trade” as in “occupation” not as in “swap” - which was the source of my mild hiccough).

    Favorite moment solving was remembering first seeing Las Meninas. I spent a lot more time with the Goyas, but it is an impressive painting when you first walk into the gallery.

    @Joaquin and others - I’m not quite sure what Rex is going on about either except that I’m doing a lot more puzzles done by women lately and this one doesn’t feel like them. I have no rebuttal, but finished with that same “dude puzzle” feeling as Rex did.

    @okanager - Exactly my first thought, although I forgot the term for it.

    @OffTheGrid - What? You can’t donate to both? I’ve got a buddy who works for the ASPCA and he spends a lot of his time working with local shelters. This is the same right-handed player who threw a left-handed scoober past my left ear to win a game, so now that I think about it, don’t donate to the ASPCA.

    @unknown 12:52- What? One is specifically related to the sea, the other more generally related to water. Seems okay here.

    Anonymous 8:37 AM  

    As I was going through this I actually thought to myself ‘at least Rex cannot complain that this was a sexist puzzle’, but I am proven wrong again. Rex probably looks up at the clouds and finds their patterns misogynistic. He even had an issue that the ‘Little Woman’s’ name was only 3 letters and clued at the bottom. There is SO MUCH real misogyny and prejudice And homophobia in the world, to critique an innocuous puzzle just drowns out the real issues.

    Nards 8:52 AM  

    I’m not excited about expanding the recent trend of “THE XYZ” to foreign languages.

    amyyanni 9:05 AM  

    Check the salary of the Chief Executive of the ASPCA before deciding to donate to it.
    Good Saturday workout, had to look up Xerophyte and the meaning of ad rem, so I cheated but learned some things. O, and the chinese chess x with Ex FBI wasn't great. Enjoyed yesterday's more.

    kitshef 9:11 AM  

    Three major mistakes up top led to a slow start: suNbird before TANAGER, XEROPHilE before XEROPHYTE, and elLipse before ZILLION. Once I unraveled that it was smooth sailing.

    “Dextrose. Galactose. Lactose”, said Tom making SWEET TALK.

    “Hey! Squirrel! Get off my lawn” BARKS Tom.

    Teedmn 9:15 AM  

    Gah, just when I was congratulating myself for only having the one writeover (pETIER just wasn't going to cut it) I find out that my guess of aEROPHYTE is wrong. Granted, I did think that a-FACTOR was a wha? for "Je ne sais quoi" but shrugged it off. aERO as in a plant that can live off air rather than water in an arid climate....

    xwordinfo tells me that the last time XEROPHYTE was in the NYT crossword was two months before I was born, no wonder I didn't know it :-).

    Big smile at TOM SWIFTY as clued, written just for Rex, I'm sure.

    Pseudologist, now there's a euphemism that is extremely timely.

    This Saturday puzzle seemed smooth and I liked it, thanks Trenton Charlson!

    Blackbird 9:22 AM  

    Oh dear me, Rex certainly is cranky today. 64A- he nitpicked his way through a pleasant puzzle. A lot was in my wheelhouse, a lot was not. That's what makes a puzzle challenging and enjoyable. 32 A Tom Swifty was easy enough, and fun to remember. Rotunda, metier, El Prado, Flopsy, Elysian, rem, all were easy enough, and interesting to encounter. Dude puzzle? With a "Little Woman" character, a children's book character, an opera whose title character is a woman, and has a triumphal march at that, what's so "dude" about the puzzle? I'm a woman who just happened to once upon a time, a long long time ago, owned a Buick LeSabre, so even an old car name didn't seem to "dude" for me. And club owners and cavemen doesn't seem particularly dude, just witty. Some fun crosses -- zillion and zoom out. And he "high culture" choices, the aforementioned "Aida", the "Inferno", were fun too. I didn't know 8 down aerophyte off the bat, but it was easy to figure out, if you have one or two crosses and think of the etymology. Phyte means plant. Hello. Aer means air. Hello. Arid environment? A plant that can't get moisture or nutrients from the soil might get it from the air. Ergo, aerophyte. 30 A -- first I had aft, then, with the "y' from Flopsy, I wavered between coy and shy, but the "h" from aerophyte clinched the shy. Lots to like in this puzzle. Oh, I didn't know xiangqi, but now I do, if it ever shows up in a puzzle again.

    David 9:23 AM  

    I just started it and discovered the Museo del Prado is fashioned "El Prado."

    Might not bother to go on.

    kitshef 9:25 AM  

    @OffTheGrid - The ASPCA operates a huge shelter right in Manhattan. For many NYT solvers, that is their local shelter.

    Blackbird 9:27 AM  

    Yikes. Since I didn't know X factor, I thought xerophyte was right, and had A factor, which I thought was a term I never heard before. Yikes. So I thought I completed the puzzle correctly, and even lectured Rex about aerophyte. Yikes. Xerophyte is a plant that can live in an arid environment, because it needs very little water. Etymology sneaks up on me! Xero means water, and I didn't know that! So, apologies to Rex, and to anyone who was bothered by my earlier post.

    Anonymous 9:27 AM  

    Self-parody or lunacy?

    Imagine being triggered by words.
    Words like caveMEN, or TomSwift.

    Imagine ones logic when you see a word like YALE and realizing that the origin is a MAN’s name!
    INFERNO, because it was written by a MAN!

    Imagine ignoring AIDA, MEG, and FLOPSY Rabbit.
    All female.
    Ignore them because it doesn’t fit your narrative.

    Imagine being Rex....

    kqrbob 9:28 AM  

    Whenever I really enjoy a solve I say to myself, let’s go see what Rex hated about this one. Once again, he didn’t let me down. So many good answers and clever clues, and then one big bucket of cold water.

    Lorelei Lee 9:45 AM  

    @Z, I've read over the puzzle three times now (yes I have nothing better to do) and I absolutely can't find the "guy" stuff. I'm not being snarky (for a change). I just can't find it.

    However, I did conclude that Offwego sounds like it could be a town in Minnesota if you say it fast enough.

    bauskern 9:49 AM  

    A solid, fun start to Saturday. Loved the puzzle, happy to solve in 40 minutes over a nice breakfast. Thought LEFTARM was clever, as was CAVEMEN.
    Then read Rex's comments, and think, maybe we can all chip in and get him some therapy appointments so he can work out his issues without spoiling the day for the rest of us.
    Query for the hive mind: If rex is going to time his puzzles, why say 8:ish? Isn't he timing it to the second? I'm impressed if he does it in 8:01 or 8:59; way faster than my times, but is he so insecure that if it's in the high 8s he can't bring himself to write down the actual number? Again, therapy might help . . . .

    Anonymous 10:00 AM  

    Everyone has a talent. Rex's talent is complaining. He can find things to complain about no matter what - truly gifted. He feels most inspired/aggressive when he self-righteously rants whilst virtue signaling. Zero humility and minimal perspective. Apparently it's a joy to behold for some. For others he's just the killjoy with the clubhouse.

    Carola 10:01 AM  

    This one totally MET my Saturday puzzle needs, the slow pace rewarded with one pleasure-producing answer after another - lots of grid SWEET TALK.. My first smile came at the only-in-crosswords encounter of FLOPSY with EL PRADO's "Las Meninas" and the Pantheon's ROTUNDA. I liked the hyperbolic pair ZILLION and UNREAL, and loved the cross of BARKS and BITES.

    New to me: XIANGQUI, EVO, XEROPHYTE (I remembered "xeriscape" from a previous puzzle, that is, I SORTA remembered, in that I wanted "sere...something).

    @GILL I - I also had a vine on my mind for the honeycreeper: with just the AN, I almost wrote in "lantana."

    @Trenton Charlson - Thank you. This was a lot of fun.

    RooMonster 10:09 AM  

    Hey All !
    Put me in the cheaters camp. Har. Tough one for me today. When I hit the wall and just can't get another answer, I don't have the patience to try to twist the ole brain, so I head to Google (well, Bing, actually). Happened a couple of times in this puz. Full disclosure, and all that.

    I did leave puz, go to SB, and when I came back, I did get some answers I was stuck on. So, not right-away cheating, at least!
    But a solid puz, scrabbly, as some have noted. Disappointed Trenton couldn't squeeze in a J somewhere. But that's just a NIT PICK.

    Had a Buick LeSabre once, in Pennsylvania. The quarter panels were so rusted out, that when you drove it with the windows down, the exhaust fumes would choke you! I had to drive it with the windows up, even when it was hot! A/C didn't work. So you know it wasn't in the best of shape! The brakes went, and it being in no real condition to fix it, I put it in a Demolition Derby. That was fun! Oh, it also had no seatbelts. Some previous owner actually cut them out instead of just tucking them into the seat. So on one hit in the Derby, I ended up in the center of the seat! Had to shimmy back to get behind the wheel again. Good stuff. That was before they checked if you had seatbelts for a Derby. Circa 1992-ish?

    Four F's. Nine total in Fri-Sat puzs. Excellent!

    Greg 10:11 AM  

    Couldn't remember if the PRADO was in Italy or Spain, so wasn't sure if the article was IL or EL, and xirophyte seemed just as likely as XEROPHYTE. So that was a Natick-y cross for me.

    Anonymous 10:17 AM  

    this is one of those puzzles (thu-sat) where the various on-line versions really, really, really should put a limit to how many times a box can be entered. in my minds eye (I do it on paper in ink, of course) I can see OFL and his minions spastically whaling away at the keyboard until it takes. geez.

    10:18 AM  

    Have to mention the evening event at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta where the hot air balloons are tethered but during their burners: Glowdeo.

    Anonymous 10:19 AM  

    I tied Rex! I tied Rex! All the way through, I kept saying “Man, Rex is going to hate this. But I might beat him!” Close anyway. I hit XEROPHTE like a boss (sort of, started with XEROPHORE which I’m not sure is a word), which I knew would be a little too sciency, and then I was pretty sure XIANGI would just piss him off. (To be fair I had to do that one letter by letter). I thought CAVEMEN but nah - oh wait yes! Anyway, good show, Mr Charlson.

    egsforbreakfast 10:20 AM  

    No one has noted the masculinity of ELPRADO. Shouldn’t the clue have referred to the lesser known LA PRADA museum in Rexburg, Idaho?

    I can’t quickly think of another phrase that is in genuine common use and has three consecutive letters the same, like ODDDUCK. It’s easy to conjure all sorts of green paintish ones, but I’m whiffing on real in-the-language ones.

    jberg 10:30 AM  

    French! Spanish! Latin! And I’m pretty sure that XEROPHYTE is derived from Greek. Not to mention Norway and Egypt. Loved the cosmopolitan feel.

    Also, I’ve heard people say “shut your pie hole” but CAKEHOLE is new to me. Maybe it’s regional.

    What I learned today: Olympian does not have the same number of letters as ELYSIAN.

    Pete 10:34 AM  

    Challenging and very enjoyable puzzle!

    Joe Dipinto 10:53 AM  

    (Waves to @puzzlehoarder):

    "Look, I do matrimonial work, it's my métier. When a wife tells me she's happy her husband is cheating on her it runs contrary to my experience."

    "Unless what?"

    "She's cheating on him...Were you?"

    "I don't like the word 'cheat'."

    Rex's review is utter claptrap, but that's par for the course. I liked this better than yesterday's puzzle. I even like XIANGQI, and I'm a dutiful Mets fan. And Met fan. The Triumphal March from AIDA rocks. Btw, the Met is restreaming the At-Home Gala they did about a month ago. It's available until 6:30 pm tomorrow. Details at the Met website.

    Now let's party. Here's a good spot. It's just a dugout that my dad built.

    OffTheGrid 10:56 AM  

    @Kitshef. I'm happy to hear about the Manhattan shelter and I stand corrected.

    Cheerio 11:02 AM  

    Thanks Rex for calling out the male skew of this. A few minutes, I thought, this is by a male, so I checked, and it was. I did enjoy EL PRADO, MEG, AND AIDA. Thanks! I will try to forget TOMSWIFTY.

    Frantic Sloth 11:04 AM  

    @Anonymous 1000am Do you just have a supply of copy/pasties that you throw around? If so, what a timesaver! I might suggest waiting longer than 2 days between duplicating an appearance. Even my tired, memory-challenged brain remembered this one from Thursday:
    Anonymous 12:02 PM
    Everyone has a talent. Rex's talent is complaining. He can find things to complain about no matter what - truly gifted. He feels most inspired/aggressive when he self-righteously rants whilst virtue signaling. Zero humility and minimal perspective. Apparently it's a joy to behold for some. For others he's just the killjoy with the clubhouse.

    Hands up for a big, fat squadoosh on the dudecentric puzzle vibe. Or, to paraphrase Her Highness of the Most Fem, Gloria Steinem: A fish without a bicycle is like a crossword puzzle without a dude. It might not make a lick of sense, but I just wanted to say it.

    Sorry, but I just got off the dog sled from OFFWEGO, MN. (😉👍@Lorelei Lee)

    QuasiMojo 11:16 AM  

    @egsforbreakfast, agree that Odd Duck is unique but I did think of FULL LOAD and Cut-OFF Filter (not as common) and PASS SENTENCE.

    Anonymous 11:16 AM  

    Visited El Prado once. Highlight was In the men’s room where I glanced over and there at the next urinal was Edward G. Robinson.

    AW 11:20 AM  

    My dad had a blue Buick Le Sabre, his pride and joy. He was an airline pilot and parked it next to the hangar. Came back from a trip, cranked her up, and whoosh! The hood caught fire. Turned out that they'd tested an engine in the hangar while he was away and the backfire had deposited an invisible film of jet fuel on the hood which duly ignited when he turned the ignition key. End of Le Sabre.

    Had to cheat on EVO. Guessed ROADEOS but no idea what either is.

    TiaC 11:24 AM  

    Thank you for calling out the ASPCA

    TiaC 11:25 AM  

    Thank you!

    Newboy 11:29 AM  

    Downright hard in Idaho today. Trenton always seems to provide a tussle and today’s almost pangram with its nasty double & triple letter combinations seemed a KRAKEN. Guess that means it’s about what we should expect on a Saturday from Mr. Charlson. Gotta agree with OFL that EXFBI sucks on several different levels—I needed a hint of the abbrev. or a ? perhaps to have a chance...especially when it’s crossed by XIANGQI a word that often slips into my discussion with friends and family. And at least in my graduate program, ORALS came pre graduate hurdling and robing followed....maybe Mr. Morse did differently at YALE? Did I forget that missing J somewhere? Nope just checked constructors note.

    Z 11:30 AM  

    Regarding the "dude vibe," I get that it is hard to point at X, Y, or Z in this puzzle and say, "there! That is the testosterone poisoning." It's a bit ineffable... until you do a puzzle like the 6/12/2020 New Yorker puzzle (for example). From the NW corner to the inclusion of a folklore character that is "capable of inspiring researchers to see as a Cloud, Moon, Death, Winter, Snake, Bird, Pelican or Earth Goddess, totemic matriarchal ancestress, female initiator, phallic mother, or archetypal image," (Wikipedia - emphasis added) that puzzle acknowledges that women exist. And there is no particular effort, we still get our poetry/pop culture/classical Rome/foreign language. But that puzzle also exists in the world where indigenous people have art and African Americans have TV shows and the strippers are men. It is in the contrast where the overwhelming ongoing dudity of the NYTX becomes undeniable.

    Today's anthem

    Birchbark 11:32 AM  

    XEROPHYTEs appeal to a male demographic, some say, as does hyperbole such as ZILLION. Note the masculine-gendered EL PRADO for the diminutively clued "Las Menas."

    "Bad news!" murmured Tom. The puzzle was more complicated.

    -- Victor Appleton, "Tom Swift and His Big Dirigible," p.109 (1st ed. 1930)

    Masked and Anonymous 11:36 AM  

    Hard but doable, at our chateau. Its barks were worse than its bites.

    BARKS: XEROPHYTE. XIANGQI. METIER. Crosses were all fair.
    BITES: EVO [staff weeject pick]. Abbreve of mystery.

    @RP: I reckon it's reasonable to want more female references in a puz than one. Looks like yer recent LATPuz had twice as many (two). But I enjoyed both puzs, even so.

    Dictionarial XFACTORs: XEROPHYTE is in the Official M&A Help Desk Dictionary. XIANGQI is not.

    Thanx for the exercise for all my nanoseconds, Mr. Charlson. Good job.

    Masked & Anonymo5Us


    Anonymous 11:42 AM  

    Good one. I needed the smile.
    Wait. You’re serious? Let me laugh even harder. Wow. Word salad doesn’t begin to describe that drivel.

    egsforbreakfast 11:55 AM  

    Is ROT UNDA another form of SLOP ITCH?

    Barbara S. 11:57 AM  

    I had oodles of errors along the way but I completed this one with no cheats in 52 minutes. I'm actually getting better at Fri. and Sat. puzzles -- miraculous. But I had a DNF on Wed. Go figure.

    At one point I had the entire western half of the grid filled in, with very little in the east. It looked weird.

    15A ONE ACRE and hectaRE have the same number of letters. So do
    23A ORALS and compS

    33D Accelerate in the process (FAST TRACK). I was quite happy with "gain speed" until nothing else in the vicinity worked.

    47A I know I could look this up, but what song has a GTO that's "really lookin' fine"?

    These were good:
    26A Takes evening courses SUPS
    30A Not forward SHY (I had "aft" for a long time.)

    I liked seeing INFERNO and ELYSIAN in the same puzzle. And I like seeing KRAKENS any time (well, maybe not while swimming).

    I once saw a production of AIDA in the Baths of Caracalla. For the triumphal procession there were horses with brilliantly decorative accoutrements, and they looked splendid, but we were kinda holding out for elephants.

    @RooMonster 10:09
    I'm glad you're still around, buddy, after your Demolition Derby career!

    Teresa 12:01 PM  

    Rex, I cannot imagine what you found to complain about. This was great, hard for the right reasons instead of because I don't know football teams and rap artists. Lots of interesting words too, no? And excuse me, I'm a gurrrl, was a feminist before you were born, and even I didn't notice any guy-centeredness here. (Aside: we are used to living in a man's world.) I appreciate your awareness, very commendable, but is it the brief of the NYTXW to be meticulously inclusive? It's a game, not a department of the EEOC. PS: I didn't know quite a few of the words, and I aced it!

    Lorelei Lee 12:05 PM  

    @Z, If one reads or hears the words trigonometry or wood shop or lawyer or doctor and thinks male, then the problem may be the thinker, male or female.

    I had to use words outside the puzzle because I can't figure out which ones in there band together in a way that could offend or exclude me. I just can't. What in this puzzle assure that men exist? Tom Swifty? I'd say I've heard Caveman most often used by women as a derogatory to describe un-woke men.

    Now, I do hate the whole Saw genre but I have at least two dear women friends who love that crap. Yick.

    Cloud, Moon, Death, Winter, Snake, Bird, Pelican? I'm not feeling woman in there. Those strike me as universals.

    Maybe it's me. Elysian, Aquatic, Apogee, Deco, Kraken,(if he'd left off the s), Metier. Tsk, tsk. That's some beautiful language ya got there.

    ChuckD 12:11 PM  

    @Z - I’ve been following your recent links thinking there may be something to be found in post Nick Lowe era EC - alas there isn’t but today you double down and go to the female version of the critics darling. You are persistent.

    Barbara S. 12:12 PM  

    Forgot this (apologies for remembering)

    "I have a dude vibe," said Airman Tom.

    JeffE 12:17 PM  

    Do you even like Crosswords, Rex?

    Lorelei Lee 12:21 PM  

    And @Frantic, You're a Mirth Goddess!

    KnittyContessa 12:21 PM  

    My streak is over. I've never heard of either METIER or AD REM and could not make sense out of that cross. I also had put in aFACTOR instead of XFACTOR so running the alphabet didn't help. Oh well. Other than that I thought it was tough but fair Saturday.

    Anonymous 12:23 PM  

    For those of you who think certain people shouldn’t be in the puzzle, here’s Samuel Morse, from Wikipedia:
    My creed on the subject of slavery is short. Slavery per se is not sin. It is a social condition ordained from the beginning of the world for the wisest purposes, benevolent and disciplinary, by Divine Wisdom. The mere holding of slaves, therefore, is a condition having per se nothing of moral character in it, any more than the being a parent, or employer, or ruler.
    Time to send him down the memory hole ?

    Geezer 12:25 PM  

    @Barbara S. The song is...brace yourself..."G T O". (Ronny and the Daytonas-1964)

    JillyBean 12:25 PM  

    Hated this so much and am female, so maybe? Definitely has too much Arcania and not enough wordplay for a Saturday . And @jberg don’t forget Chinese too!

    Masked and Anonymous 12:33 PM  

    Do AIDA & FLOPSY count as puz shots of estrogen? Then we'd be up to three, with MEG.
    For dude refs in the fillins, I've so far found TOMSWIFTY & CAVEMEN. But, M&A tends to miss a lot of these. Never have personally checked KRAKENS for gender, f'rinstance.

    Like some other commenters, Cakehole was a new concept for m&e. But it made my dictionary, as a Brit. informal term.

    Never saw the SAWII flick, or any of its cousins. Our FriNite Schlockfests tend to avoid slasher flicks, where possible.


    Anonymous 12:33 PM  

    And even in the Nick Lowe era, Costello was the dimmest talent of the Rocpile/Brinkley Schwartz etc cadre.
    Best part: my roommate in college was an insufferable prick whose absolute favorite was EC. This moron went to college on Navy ROTC scholarship and nearly forfeited it because he couldn’t pass calculus. Failed it multiple times at our school then finally passed in a
    Summer course at Trenton State. My God, something about Elvis attracts losers.

    Xcentric 12:46 PM  

    Enjoyed learning the terms TomSwifty and ad rem.
    When I was in grade school in Brooklyn many years ago, I stumbled upon Tom Swift books in the school library. Not the blue covered newer ones, but the yellowish colored pre-WWII ones. When I had finished reading every single one on the shelves, I went to the public library (which was a hike from where I lived) and discovered the newer blue covered ones and read through every single one of those. What fun it was to read those books. I haven’t looked at one since the early sixties, but according to Wiki, there were series written by different authors right up to the present. I remember grinning whenever there was some wordplay, but never heard that this kind of literary joke was called a Tom Swifty. I do remember one - We’ve struck oil! Tom gushed.
    All in all a tough solve, but I finally made it through. I had Alcazar before El Prado as my first answer in the NE which slowed me down for a while. (The painting is set in the Alcazar.)

    Wanderlust 12:50 PM  

    My feelings exactly, but you said it much better than I would have.

    Anonymous 1:00 PM  

    I come from the region where it's called a pie hole. Astute enough to see the equivalence. So, keep your trap shut.

    What? 1:05 PM  

    Poor Rex. He aspires to join those movie reviewers who can’t wait to unsheathe their knives when confronted by a really bad movie

    “It’s so bad it isn’t even bad.”

    Alas, he has a long way to go.

    Frantic Sloth 1:07 PM  

    Oh, no, @egsforbreakfast 1155am! You betta don't tell us you got ROT UNDA dere! 🤢

    @Barbara S 1157am I have to say that "really lookin' fine" made me think "my 409", not GTO, so I'm with you on that. Also the part about being able to look it up and yet not. 😉
    What @Teresa 1201pm and Lorelei Lee 1205pm said. 👏

    Frantic Sloth 1:14 PM  

    @Z I'm confused by the Fiona Apple link having an ad (paid for by the MAGAts committee) telling us to wish trump a happy birthday. WTF?

    Check your crosses 1:14 PM  

    Succulent has the same number of letters as xerophyte.

    TJS 1:16 PM  

    @Z, Wow, don't bogart that , Dude , pass it over to me. And when you come down, will you please tell us exactly what Rex means by "8-ish" ?

    pabloinnh 1:18 PM  

    @Lorelei Lee, and other fans of the Offwego, MN possibility-NY has both and Owego and an Oswego, which are, well almost. I remember coming up with Oswego, into the wild blue yonder as a high schooler, which I am using now for and excuse.

    jb129 1:39 PM  

    I stuck with this until the very end & still had to cheat for 3 grids. Would've been here sooner except for the cheat & donning our mask & gloves. Good, tough puzzle overall.

    TJS 1:39 PM  

    Just checked late comments from yesterday and realized that of all references to the puzzle available to him, Rex chooses The Tender Trap, a 1955 movie in which a 40 year old playboy woos a 23 year old ingenue, starring the epitome of every thing wrong with men, Frank Sinatra. Rex, how could you ??

    2LikesEd 2:13 PM  

    Just wandered in from today's WSJ puzzle. Can anyone explain what that was about?

    Anonymous 2:23 PM  

    So in our new world order, every crossword must have a "Breadth of Cultural Reference". . . God Help Us!!!. . . Ohh, Sorry - Shouldn't say "God" - Might offend somebody. . . Every puzzle must now contain clues for women, blacks, Asians, gays, and, of course, vegetarians. . . If not, an immediate apology to "anyone offended" must be forthcoming. . . Where the hell are we heading???

    Anonymoose 3:20 PM  

    @Barbara & @Frantic. OK, someone has to do this:

    Ronny & the Daytonas
    Little GTO
    You're really lookin' fine
    Three deuces and a four-speed
    And a three-eighty-nine
    Listen to her tachin' up now
    Listen to her whine
    C'mon and turn it on, wind it up, blow it out, GTO
    Yeah, yeah, little GTO
    Yeah, yeah, little GTO

    "409" Beach Boys
    She's real fine, my 409
    She's real fine, my 409
    Well I saved my pennies and I saved my dimes (giddy up, giddy up 409)
    For I knew there would be a time (giddy up, giddy up 409)
    When I would buy a brand new 409 (409, 409)
    Giddy up, giddy up, giddy up 409 (giddy up, giddy up 409)
    Giddy up 409 (409, 409)

    egsforbreakfast 3:28 PM  

    @Quasi Mojo 11:16. I think Full Load and Pass Sentence are very much in the vernacular. Nice going!

    Chip Hilton 3:59 PM  

    Fun puzzle. I erred on aEROPHYTE and the NW took me far too much time, but I loved the challenge.

    I truly don’t know who annoys me more: Rex, with his fourth-grader pouts, or @Z, with his Pence-like need to agree with his main man.

    Tom Givnish 4:19 PM  

    For the first time in all my decades of solving the NYT crossword puzzle, this puzzle FINALLY contained a clue involving a question of phylogeny (evolutionary relationships) and adaptive radiation (ecological diversification within a lineage – "Relative of the honeycreeper".

    Unfortunately, however, the puzzle-maker is over a decade out of date re the results of molecular phylogenetics, and wrote "TANAGER". Anyone know how to pass this on to Will Shortz? Too bad - I thought it was a great puzzle!! And the answers contained every letter except J.

    syracusesolver 4:38 PM  

    An excellent puzzle, challenging but fair. I had bartER for trade and uRe for grand finale which left the east side hidden at first. But I have finally learned to remove entries that I’m not sure of which interfere with my vision of a puzzle.

    I find that a puzzle's vibe is usually set by whatever goes in 1A and 1D. Starting with a Z made this one sparkle right away.

    My iPhone's ringtone is the Grand March from Aida. It gets everyone’s attention and often brings smiles. (I, too, saw a performance in the Baths of Caracalla (hi, @Barbara S.)—1966—the first time I’d ever seen an opera. It set a very high standard.

    bauskern 4:50 PM  

    @ Chip Hilton Thank you, I picked up the very same vibe from @Z, except my mind went to Sean Hannity! Haha!

    SJ Austin 4:52 PM  

    I had sly instead of SHY for ("Not forward"), which seemed pretty fair, and never having heard of XEROPHYTE, I had "xeroplyte", which only seems slightly less like a real word if you ask me. Not a great crossing there.

    Birchbark 5:08 PM  

    @Tom Givnish (4:19) -- Could you elaborate on molecular phylogenetics and how it would apply to honeycreepers and their "relatives." I know nothing of the subject.

    The TANAGER page of my 1980 copy of Peterson's Field Guide for Eastern Birds doesn't mention the honeycreeper, nor had I heard of it before today (so am out-of-date on this fourfold that of the Times). We did have a nesting pair of scarlet tanagers last year near enough to see them from time to time. A real treat.

    So while I don't have a context beyond curiosity, I am interested in what an analysis at the molecular level would tell us here about avian "relatives."

    Anoa Bob 5:32 PM  

    Surprised myself when I dropped in ELYSIAN at 38D and then the crosses confirmed that I had the correct spelling. One of those things you know but don't know you know.

    I've been an amateur wood worker all my life, mostly making functional stuff like tables, bed frames, work benches, etc. The last few years I've downsized and am making wood jewelry, mostly rings and pendants. The wood I'm using is Lignum Vitae, Latin for "Wood of life" (Guaiacum officinale). It's an extremely heavy, dense tropical hard wood, native to the Caribbean (It's the national tree of the Bahamas and its blossom is the national flower of Jamaica) and the north coast of S. America. The reason it's so heavy, dense and full of resin is because it grows in very dry conditions. Lignum is XEROPHYTic! So I dropped in XEROPHYTE instantly.

    It's hard not to like a puzzle when I get two of the toughies without help. I did notice a few empty-calorie type entries such as ONE ACRE and LEFT ARM. SORTA GREEN PAINTish, don't you think? And the grid gets some fill assistance from those two-POCs-with-one-S at the ends of APT/SNOOP, ROADEO/BARK and KRAKEN/APOGEE.

    Those plus a few run-of-the-mill POCs make a difference in how I rate a puzzle. (Hey, I'm paying for it!) Not a big difference, but a perceptible one nonetheless. Compare yesterday's grid with today's. See if you notice any difference.

    Barbara S. 6:08 PM  

    @Anonymoose 3:20
    Fantastic comparison! I feel there's the germ of a Ph.D. thesis in your post: "Images of Automotive Lust in Surf Pop."

    @egsforbreakfast 3:28
    How about CROSS SECTION.

    Tom Givnish 6:13 PM  

    @Birchbark – So, honeycreepers are the largest group of birds in the Hawaiian islands, and have all evolved from a single common ancestor despite the fact that they show an extraordinary range of bill sizes and shapes, which would be typical of 3-4 families on individual continents. We know the form the set of descendants from a single ancestor based on an analysis of relationships using DNA sequences. We expect that the species most closely related to each other will share large numbers of recent DNA mutations. Using such information to infer relationships, of the family of a lineage – its phylogeny – is the subject of the field molecular phylogenetics. It can be applied to a small group, or a very large group. Analyses of relationships across almost all living bird species based on DNA identify certain groups of finches, not tanagers, as the closest relatives of the Hawaiian honeycreepers. // HOWEVER, there is a linguistic twist here. One of the reasons that tanagers were thought related to honeycreepers (in addition to both groups sharing many species with brilliant plumage and conical beak) are the narrow bills of Cyanerpes, a bird with iridescent blue feathers that visits flowers (like a lot of Hawaiian honeycreepers, though they're red). Cyanerpes is a kind of tanager ... but it's also called a HONEYCREEPER. Which the puzzle maker could claim would make his clue correct!

    Ernonymous 7:07 PM  

    @SyracuseSolver I also saw Aida in the Baths of Caracalla, 1980.

    CDilly52 7:31 PM  

    What a happy ending to an agonizing week (weeks really) at work! So, we have pretty much gotten my three counties’ government processes into a “new normal.” All the plexiglass partitions and shields have been installed and all deposit boxes for the county offices have been built in the foyers of the courthouses to encourage folks to drop things off rather than visit an office in person, “social distancing, please” signs are posted and every county officer has posted her/his new policies and trained staff on how to encourage healthy practices without losing their next election.

    Now we begin to try to plow our way through the red tape of the CARES, HAVA, FFCRA (just the acronyms give me a migraine) legislation to begin to recover some of the crippling expenditures and make plans for the “next” pandemic (perish the thought). One of my counties has just about spent its rainy day fund down to the place where they won’t survive a gentle spring shower, so the stress continues for them as we move through our tornado season!! After hours of research, phone calls, and figuring, I discovered and we have hired experts with decades of experience in fighting the US government on reimbursements, purchasing squabbles and FEMA litigation. Good folks, and we are gambling the last of the discretionary funds on maximizing our recovery. The good news is that the Feds have finally said out loud (or in official printed form) that ALL (meaning even costs associated with securing reimbursement from the US government) are reimbursable under CARES. So, we will submit our purchases each month, the experts bill us, and we pay the experts and the next month we can submit the bills for their fees with those for PPE, construction costs, sanitization supplies, etc. but the time all this is taking everyone has been insane.

    And it has nearly killed my crossword enjoyment, dammit! I worked so many hours between last Friday and this that I forgot I did not finish Thursday and killed my streak. I’m now backf to a skimpy 2. 😡!! On top of that, the lunatic Thursday trick took me too long to figure out and while I thought it was a really clever REBUS twist it wasn’t quite ready for prime time and ended up being a giant time-suck. At least Friday was a lovely Robyn Weintraub with some very clever clues. Truly, that helped me get through a grueling Friday after only a few hours of sleep. Fast forward (yes, I hear you all laughing and saying fast???) to today.

    Morning arrived, the temperature was lovely 72 with a gentle breeze, and the rec center was actually open so my Tai Chi class could meet inside with our masks on - an epic respiratory challenge - which beats the crap out of the parking lot in the broiling sun with wind that blows your hair in your mouth!

    Came home to my back deck, a fresh pot of French press and a lovely home baked raspberry puff pastry from a friend who has been taking pity on me. And a fun Saturday puzzle. Crunchy but not so bad you break a tooth.

    Liked ODD DUCK, SWEET TALK, METIER (a favorite word of mine) and just such a very few groaners. I do need to NITPICK, though; just a bit. First, as others have observed, marine doth not AQUATIC synonymize (making up words is entirely allowed because I just said so). My real gripe though is that a Honeycreeper is a TANAGER not “a relative of.” I burned way way too much time going through the TANAGER bird family in my exhausted state trying to recall One with the same number of letters that also begins with T. Call me exhausted and overly picky, I guess, but that really irritates me.

    Enjoy the remainder of the weekend, all. I’m back to the grind for a few hours and then hopefully a full night’s sleep before making another effort to get to the top of a couple piles non my desk tomorrow.

    brahweh 7:53 PM  

    This puzzle really liked the two-word-with-same-last-and-first-letter type answers. FASTTRACK, SWEETTALK, ADAPTTO, LETSSEE, and the big triplet ODDDUCK. Not sure if coincidence or conscious constructing, but wasn't a sticking point for me either way.

    Anonymous 8:04 PM  

    Chip Hilton, and bauskern,
    Please stop picking on Z. He doesn’t react to criticism well at all. I wouldn’t mind, but I’m dying for him to respond to my questions as to why a lag screw isn’t a far more common example of transferring rotational energy into linear energy than an internal combustion engine. Mind you, my query of him is only 20 hours old, and the screw, one of the basic simple machines is 5000 years old, so there’s time.

    Hey Z,
    What do you think the cam profile of that 409 is? I’ll wait til you wiki what that means, but while I wait, maybe you can school my on triple deuces. Gotta be familiar to you, right? You’re always posting songs. This should be right in your wheelhouse.

    JC66 8:16 PM  

    @Tom & @Bircbark

    Your comments are for the birds.

    JC66 8:18 PM  

    BTW, @Rex is going to HATE tomorrow's puzzle.

    egsforbreakfast 8:24 PM  

    @Barbara S. 6:08. Cross Section is another good one. Thanks for that!

    @ c dilly 52 7:31. Thanks for sluggin’ it out in the trenches. Sorry about your streak. Wish I could take the break for you.

    Photomatte 8:26 PM  

    Ad Rem? Is this really a thing? Might as well get a pair of 13-sided dice (A-L and M-Z) and just start rolling out answers so they qualify as 'Saturday worthy.'

    Hoboken Mike 8:42 PM  

    In the sentence the dolphin is a marine animal it means the same thing as the dolphin is an aquatic animal

    GILL I. 8:55 PM  

    @CDilly52.....Condolences. The death of some of our old, tried and true ways always elicits sympathy. At least you were able to come home to a lovely home baked raspberry pastry and a good pot of French press coffee.
    Today, going to my little neighborhood strip mall, every single little cafe, Indian grocery store, bakery, child care center and my CVS pharmacy were boarded up. EVER SINGLE ONE. They are open, but they've put ply-wood on all glass. Not one person has broken in or rioted in our community - but these owner are telling me they are preparing for the worst. I sincerely wanted to scream. It's a good thing I was wearing my mask; they couldn't see the lightning coming out of my nostrils. Insane!
    I have some Talisker left over...I'm going to have a small glass. Cheers @JC66 and thanks for the heads up on @Rex's explosion tomorrow. Just what we need. :-(

    Joe Dipinto 9:27 PM  

    Oh, I was just dropping by to predict a scathing diatribe in tomorrow's edition and I see JC66 got here first. Yep. It won't be pretty. Not pretty at all.

    Carl Larson 9:38 PM  

    Should ZOOMOUT and FALLOUT be in the same puzzle, particularly an unconstrained themeless?
    SAWII and ACTI?
    I’d rework a grid to eliminate any of these pair, let alone three.

    Z 9:44 PM  

    @JC66 8:18 - “HATE” is probably an understatement.

    Anonymous 9:55 PM  

    Why are you YELLING?
    And why quotation marks? Irony? Are you familiar with the website unnecessary quotation marks?
    What would a Ford engineer do as a copy editor?

    Z 10:07 PM  

    @Frantic Sloth - I get Thom Tillis ads and Liberty Mutual ads. It’s all part of YouTube’s plot to get us to subscribe.

    JC66 10:18 PM  

    @Anon 9:55

    @Z was just quoting my "HELP."

    Get a life.

    Ernonymous 10:46 PM  

    @jc66 Yup!! But really it sucks ass.

    Ernonymous 10:46 PM  

    @joeDipinto it's gonna be an epic meltdown!!

    Ernonymous 10:48 PM  

    @anon 9:55 your Z fetish is really cute.

    GILL I. 11:25 PM  

    Uh Oh. I have't started the puzzle yet. Another little skosh of Talisker.....

    JC66 11:33 PM  

    @GILL I

    Make it a double. 🍸

    Frantic Sloth 11:36 PM  

    @Anonymous 955pm, etc. Playing hard to get doesn't suit you. More coy bell.

    @Z 1007pm YouTube is on "my list" lately. Don't people who post have a say in what is advertised on their channel? If I were FA, I'd be apoplectic over that ad.

    Joe Dipinto 12:03 AM  

    The clock has struck midnight.

    Anonymous 10:14 AM  

    Crossword assessments can take many shapes. I'd venture, in order of importance, they should cover at a minimum:

    1/ is it fun to solve (often: how fun is theme / lively is the fill, etc...) this is often, highly subjective.
    2/ does it conform to conventional "best practices" (no partials, obscurities, excessive abbreviations, etc..) (more objective)
    3/ how impressive is it from a constructors point of view (most objective).

    I didn't like this puzzle, but most of my complaints stemmed from 1/ - I find anagrams boring and overdone. I can certainly see however that were you to like anagram style clues this has merit (try coming up with another better anagram answer, if it's so easy Rex...). It's also reasonably smooth on 2/ and Sunday crosswords are always hard from 3/.

    Rex's reviews are clearly not balanced - his base looks to him for the next big angry takedown -- and you don't do that by writing a balanced review. He's a one-trick pony of a performer, not a critic. It's a shame, given his platform, that he doesnt use it in a more constructive and civil way.

    Jonny Ace 1:41 PM  

    Just completed mold remediation in the crawl space, so learned all about xerophylic growth!

    John 4:12 AM  

    775 days. This puzzle ended the streak. It’s quite sad.

    thefogman 11:16 AM  

    Fell for the trap at 8D like so many others did and went with aEROPHYTE instead of the (practically) synonymous XEROPHYTE. I hastily wrote it in not thinking too much about the cross aFACTOR seemed a bit off - but I let it be. I don’t like to NITPICK but that was a bit unfair in my opinion.

    spacecraft 12:40 PM  

    Release the KRAKENS!

    Ever get the feeling that the constructor does NOT want you to solve his/her puzzle? I got that feeling today. Letter add-ons all over the place--but I have come, finally, to expect them, which helped me this time around. SAWII, EXFBI, XFACTOR. Yeah, that last one didn't fool me because: I never heard of aerophyte! XERO-, on the other hand, is a well-known prefix for "dry." Compare the Xerox machine, which duplicates without anything wet.

    No, my main hangup today, besides those add-ons, was confidently writing in AFT for "Not forward." That cost much gnashing of teeth before I finally got it straightened out. But straighten it I did, gathering more than ONEACRE of triumph points. I still don't know how I managed the SW, with that weird 39-down thing. I think I've seen the word (or name?) XIANG somewhere, which may have helped.

    No direct DOD today, but let us consider AIDA. From slave girl to queen: if that's not DOD-worthy, what is?

    What kind of structure could have held the KRAKEN in the first place? Inquiring minds want to know. Puts me in mind of Jurassic Park and its silly fences. Anyway, birdie.

    [Bryson, how could you? Even I could play that hole in less than 10!]

    Diana, LIW 12:41 PM  


    Diana, Waiting for X Words

    Burma Shave 3:49 PM  


    LET'SSEE what the XFACTOR's for . . .
    we'll ZOOMIN when it's OFFWEGO
    with those ELPRADO clothes you WORE.


    leftcoaster 3:51 PM  

    XEROPHYTE, KRAKENS, and XIANGQUI caused a bad fit. Then I fell into a cake-hole... Alice in Wonderland?...UNREAL... Goodbye, CRUel world.

    rondo 4:05 PM  

    UNREAL. OFL's PREMISE is that this is a dude puz full of dude things? LETSSEE: ELPRADO, ROTUNDA, AIDA, SWEETTALK, METIER, ELYSIAN, GOTHIC, ASPCA, TANAGER, ADAPTTO; if those SORTA things are *dude* things, wow.
    No over-writes for me. Did not TRIP into any TRAP. Found it rather easy. Never SAW SAW; what happens in ACTI of SAWII?? MEG Ryan, yeah baby.
    Be wary the AQUATIC KRAKENS, dudes.

    Diana, LIW 6:15 PM  

    I went to Xian on a trip to China, but never heard of the game. That whole city smelled like solvent - there was a vendor on every other corner selling little Xian terra cotta warriors that they made over an open fire made of coals. Can you say air pollution? Tremendous.

    Several weeks ago my paper stopped printing the Saturday copy of the paper - you can get it on line, and can print out the puz. But Saturday is just not as much fun. have a puzzle like this...sigh.

    Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

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