Intestinal neighbors of jejuna and ceca / SAT 7-25-20 / One of fourteen holy helpers in Roman Catholicism / L in Broadway monogram LMM / Introducer of math symbol e / Pigs jocularly / Retailer that hired its first openly transgender model in 2019

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Constructor: Royce Ferguson

Relative difficulty: Easy? I was not speeding and got up in the middle to do something, so I don't know...

THEME: none

Word of the Day: ST. VITUS (9D: One of the Fourteen Holy Helpers in Roman Catholicism) —
Vitus (/ˈvtəs/), according to Christian legend, was a Christian saint from Sicily. He died as a martyr during the persecution of Christians by co-ruling Roman Emperors Diocletianand Maximian in 303. Vitus is counted as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers of medieval Roman Catholicism. Saint Vitus' Day is celebrated on 15 June. In places where the Julian Calendar is used, this date coincides, in the 20th and 21st centuries, with 28 June on the Gregorian Calendar.
In the late Middle Ages, people in Germany celebrated the feast of Vitus by dancing before his statue. This dancing became popular and the name "Saint Vitus Dance" was given to the neurological disorder Sydenham's chorea. It also led to Vitus being considered the patron saint of dancers and of entertainers in general. (wikipedia)
• • •

This one lost me at "intestinal neighbors" and never got me back. Triple stacks on their own just aren't enough to hold my interest, and none of the long answers had any kind of currency or spark or vitality or novelty or anything. Puzzle felt like it was made in the 20th century and then someone got to it last week and added a few current / updated clues, but still ... no one's going to write home about CLOSED-BOOK TESTS or LEARN ONE'S LESSON. And the fill really suffers in places. Lots of short fill yesterday, but most of it held up; today, it fell apart a little bit more. I have the word "Yuck" written across the top of my grid *five* times. Now with ROD I was only mad at the clue (without "fishing" in front of it, ROD is horrible as an answer to [Bit of lakeside equipment]), and with AGNI I was mad because every time I've seen it in the past it's been a crosswordese Latin plural, so I instinctively recoiled, but ... it's a real-ass god, and not exactly a super-minor figure (like, say ST. VITUS—who?), so maybe I'll have to learn to at least tolerate the Hindu god AGNI. But I do not have to tolerate ILEA (yuck all around) or ENES, and SHE doesn't have a slash in it—see: SHE sells seashells down by the seashore. No slash. It *can* have a slash in it, I guess, though no one does that any more (singular "they" has triumphed). Because of all the yuck short fill and associated clues, and because none of the long answers gave a proper payoff when they came into view, the puzzle felt disappointing, and sadly nothing going on in the middle or bottom of the grid did much to change that.

AGNI clues of the Shortz era
I kept getting stalled on awkward pseudo-things like UNEDGED and TIE-WRAP. Remembered crosswordese COATI but half-forgot crosswordese ALTAI. Guessed right on crosswordese TOILE (TULLE is the tutu material, TUILE is ... a cookie, I think, and TOILE is upholstery). I don't accept that "L.M.M." is a "Broadway monogram"—I know who you're talking about, I saw "Hamilton" (and not on Disney+), but that "monogram" has not gotten beyond hardcore fandom, I don't think. At least today the ANO clue told you that you really do need the tilde. But it's still ANO, so pfft. Ugh to the Greek letter gimmick whereby XXX = CHIS. And ugh to -ARY. "IT'S HERE!" has a certain energy I like, but multiple KEATONS and multiple BONSAIS and too many other things just get me down. I was proud of how many of my first guesses on the short stuff were correct. VAST ILIA (misspelled, but still, close) SHE EEL RIPA ENES TESS INCA PELE and DEE, all correct. Oh, and INEXILE, boom, no crosses, nailed it (7D: Like the Dalai Lama since 1959). Of course all of this speed was offset by my total inability to see SEALED ENVELOPES (I had CLASS- at the beginning of 12D: Things for which you must memorize information and that Really hurt). [Know for the future] doesn't capture LEARN ONE'S LESSON at all. There's nothing that hints at the f***ing up you have to do in order to LEARN ONE'S LESSON. [Know for the future] just sounds like info you store away. No context. No sense of learning *the hard way*. I'm reminded all the time of how much better many of these puzzles would be with a more careful (and current) editorial voice. Oh well.

Mistakes? Hmm. ALL for ONE, ILIA for ILEA (again just awful), OAR for ROD. I think that's it. Not many at all. Many thanks to crossword stalwarts EULER and NAST and RIPA for easing my path through this thing.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS hey if you want to do a Beautiful (if very easy) themeless today, you should check out Caitlin Reid's latest New Yorker puzzle, which is lovely

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


GHarris 12:08 AM  

Breezed through mainly because all of the long answers just popped into place. My fastest Saturday ever. In fact, got it done more quickly than some of the puzzles earlier in the week.

Howard 12:13 AM  

Meh. I like a Saturday puzzle to challenge me. This was no more difficult than a normal Wednesday. And it was boring. No juice, no nothing really.

jae 12:13 AM  

Easy. Putting in VICTORIAS SECRET with no crosses was helpful. Interesting grid, a soupçon of sparkle (see previous), liked it a bit more than @Rex did.

Harryp 12:16 AM  

The top group in the puzzle gave the most trouble, but SEALEDENVELOPES and ----SECRET got the rest. Medium Challenging for Saturday.

ghhthree 12:25 AM  

Here's a request I posted yesterday afternoon. When I logged into my NYTimes account today, I found out that several of you had answered my query despite my late request. Thank you so much. I'm feeling the love!

The Times website itself still refuses to accept my login. I get an error message, but no explanation or apology.

It's late for me,so I won't try your suggestions right now. I'm going back to Jane and tell her how much support we got from you all. She'll be delighted! When I get up again "tomorrow" (actually later today) I'll try some of your suggestions and probably have this problem solved before breakfast. For the record, here's my original post (although many of you have already seen it:

ghthree said...

My wife Jane and I normally print out two copies before breakfast and solve on separate clipboards. Being halfway finished by lunchtime on a Friday feels good. Neither of us is a speed demon, and we stop for visitors and phone calls (usually two or more of each.) Today's puzzle raised one big question:

Has anybody but us run into problems getting the puzzle from the NYTimes in the last three days? We got Wednesday's puzzle, but yesterday and today were complete frustrations. After struggling for a while to make contact with NYTimes, I was told to check the "CROSSWORD Page." On the NYTIMES website we find no "CROSSWORD" page. There is, however, a "GAMES" page, which,after chatting with various "Agents" gets us to an "apology" message saying essentially
1: We're aware of a CROSSWORD problem.
2: We're working on it.
3: We have no idea how long it will take.

FWIW, we're running the latest version of Windows 10 (updated on Tuesday, I believe) on a Hewlett Packard desktop. We have the same problem whether we use Chrome or Firefox. We've been puzzle customers for at least ten years.

Do any of you have suggestions? It would be nice if the Times provided at least a "shortcut" to the apology page.
Again, thank you. Stay safe.

Marc 12:50 AM  

I generally only do Friday and Saturday puzzles and these last two were some of the easiest Fri/Sat puzzles in a long time.

Anoa Bob 1:10 AM  

Got 27D COATI without any crosses. One of our regular Mexico Explorando La Ruta Maya group members was bitten by a caged one when he reached out to pet it. When we got back to the states he had to undergo a series of rabies shots since there was no way to know for sure that the it wasn't infected. I guess he LEARNED ONE'S LESSON: Don't pet the COATI.

I'm guessing that no one on the NYT xword staff speaks Spanish. I was taught that N and Ñ are two completely different letters, in eh and in yay, and not the same letter as clued for 14D. ENES is totally ugly and there is no way you can put lipstick on that OINKER. It usually gets a "chemical suffixes" clue. Equally ugly.

egsforbreakfast 1:20 AM  

I’m going to admit that I just don’t get the allure of themeless puzzles. Sure, I like solving them ok. It’s just that there is never, ever, ever a high in mid solve like there is in grasping a lever theme, like yesterday’s NOW!!! Still, a good puzzle today by Mr. Ferguson. And I certainly enjoyed that the prominence of the 1A placement made me realize, for the first time, that there’s a little ASS in VICTORIASSECRET.,

Anonymous 1:27 AM  

Can someone explain XII? I don't get that one.

N 2:21 AM  

I think Rex is actually being too nice. This was terrible.

Many of the clues feel like garbage - I'm always cognizant that some of it is me, since there are a lot of phrases in crosswords I just don't know. For example I had no idea what WIN PLACE AND SHOW or ALL ALONG THE LINE are. But worse it just seems like extremely lazy and vague clues to try to introduce difficulty, but where it doesn't make sense. The clue for ANO is arbitrary, the clues for EULER and KEATONS are just straightforward and lame, clues for NFL, OWEN, CHIS are complete "alright, I guess"-es (except CHIS, which might be objectively bad.)

I'll stop ranting because I have no idea which of my complaints are fair or not, but I wonder if others shared my complete disdain for this one.

Main things I liked were IN EXILE (I remember being shocked when I first learned the Dalai Lama hadn't actually been in Tibet for 50+ years), PETE'S, and AP LIT.

I'll second Rex and say the New Yorker puzzle was great. Much easier, but actually enjoyable.

GILL I. 5:50 AM  

Shouldn't I be throwing confetti up in the air and blowing a vuvuzela? Should I at least open up a bottle of champagne and reach all the way over my back and pat it to death? I finished a Saturday so fast that I didn't even have to get up and fold the laundry.
So I'm up-graded to first class only to be served a mushy ham sandwich and a Diet Coke. If ever I needed a TOKE, it was now. Waaaah...I want caviar on my one day that should be a celebration.
Where to begin? Well....I did let out a little whoop at VICTORIAS SECRET. She sure made the headlines. I think Playboy was first in the transgender hiring. So I thought this will be cool beans what with it being all current. Then I started getting to the Maleska EEL OLE XII SARI ALTAI TOILE RIA IDYL ECHO CHIS and I BROODED. I really wanted some hot salsa. I just got a few tomatoes mixed with a few onions.
@Anoa....Yep. That bothers me no end. They are two different letters and Will NEVER seems to get it.
I suppose if you worked in a glue factory you wouldn't wear an OPEN TOE shoe?

Frantic Sloth 6:09 AM  



Dan Sachs 6:44 AM  

Face of a clock

A. Schiff 6:44 AM  

When I got "learned one's lesson," I became sure that "Royce Ferguson" is just a pseudonym for Susan Collins

Lewis 6:45 AM  

It's an impressive feat, two vertical spanners crossing six horizontal ones, with four of the spanners being NYT debuts, including the lovely TALKS IN A WHISPER. Try making something like this sometime!

But most importantly, how was the solve? Excellent, for me. Varied, with some parts easy, some medium, and some tough, so it was neither hacking through vines all the way, nor GLIDING without bite from sea to shining sea. Encouragement motivated me as gauntlets resisted.

Throughout, wit in cluing entertained (SEALED ENVELOPES, XII, VINE, NFL, i.e.). Did anyone else want BARK before VINE?

All in all, a stack-fest that stacked up for me, and a big thumbs up. Thank you Royce!

Diver 6:49 AM  

There's nothing wrong with ILEA, Rex. It's a gimme for anyone who ever took a Biology or an Anatomy & Physiology class. So once again, if it isn't in your particular wheelhouse it can't be any good.

B Right There 6:50 AM  

Saw the stacks and knew I was in for ugh short downs, and was not disappointed. Straight off at 2d we got an anatomical reference, which I just left blank until it filled from crosses, thinking 'that could be any 4 letters!' Just resigned myself to a tedious Saturday slog (which it did feel like) and was pleased to see my time (27 minutes) was over ten minutes below my average (41) when I finished! But, as @rex and others are expressing, no joy. Completely agree with others about tilded and Umlaut letters just not being the same. With Umlauts, there is even a legitimate way to transcribe them into english: (ö = oe).

@ anon 1:27 AM... XII. Think top of a clock face with the Roman numerals standing for 12 (noon).

Z 6:54 AM  

@anon1:27 - The face is a clock face and XII is 12.

amyyanni 7:24 AM  

Triple stacks are favorites of mine, so had fun with this. Pretty much with @Lewis today. And plenty of time to get ready for my Saturday run w/ Scott (listen to Weekend Edition).

Z 7:33 AM  

Yep, easy. Biggest slow down was waiting to see if we would be taking CLOSED BOOK examS or TESTS.

It struck me as a little odd that the worst ese was not crossing the triple stacks. Newer solvers might be slowed by COATI/ALTAI/AP LIT/SARI/TOILE, but those of us who have been doing these awhile can put lots of that arcana in without a nanosecond’s thought. Blrrgh.

ATTIRED KEATONS makes me think of Annie Hall.

Rex, I hear you about LEARN ONE’S LESSON, but didja notice the clue at 1A. I think we’re seeing a little movement here and there. Of course the whole ENES/AÑO thing is there to bug people in a whole other direction.

I missed the VICTORIA’S SECRET news but did see the Sports Illustrated news. It’s sort of depressing that these are “firsts” and news.

Did anyone else hear “fourteen holy helpers” in Robin’s voice (Burt Ward, not Chris O’Donnell).

@Diver - I think you misread Rex’s plaint. ILEA (and ILiA for that matter) are crosswordese plus we get an intestinal tract clue for it. So gross because intestines and gross because ese so just “yuck all around.“ If you want to argue that intestines pass the breakfast test, fine. Many will disagree but some will agree. But thinking Rex didn’t like it because he didn’t know it is just wrong.

@A. Schiff - Har. I woke up to Twitter conservatives losing their minds over Roberts again, so your riff resonated. What’s very clear is Collins is no Olympia Snowe.

QuasiMojo 7:36 AM  

Typing in SAKS FIFTH AVENUE lost me a few minutes. And TOR for face. But still a super fast and rather easy Saturday. It reminded me of the guy who always did those VAST stack puzzles. They look intimidating but quickly roll over. I was disappointed that the "props" at the Oscars wasn't related to the long-winded acceptance speeches. I was thinking of S/He justvthe other day because I had a teacher back in 1975 who insisted we use it. And I pondered how this gender battle going on in language these days is not as new as we might think.

Rex, I tried to do that New Yorker puzzle yesterday but it would never load. And even if it had, the New Yorker puzzle software is testy and buggy at best. It needs a makeover.

Mr. Cheese 7:37 AM  

@egsforbreakfast - I will bask in the glow of “NOW” for a long time... still smiling.

Conrad 7:38 AM  

@Rex has said many times that when a long 1A goes in with no crosses, the puzzle is going to be easy. That was it for me today. Less than a third my average Saturday time.

As @Lewis said, the less-than-stellar short fill is more than compensated for by the eight grid-spanners. I liked the puzzle a lot more than the majority did.

Hang-ups: ST. tITUS at 9D and PEru at 51D. The latter may be defensible because the clue calls for the "Three-time World Cup champion". I'm no soccer maven, but isn't the World Cup champion a team? Is the best player on the team also accorded the title of Champion? Or is there an equivalent of MVP that may have made a better clue? Pele is clearly not the only player ever to play on three WC championship teams (at best he would have had teammates who did, no)? Or is he just the only four-letter player to do that?

Hungry Mother 7:40 AM  

The long answers helped me to a very fast time. When I first saw Buster, I thought Crabb for some reason, but then the right name came to me.

KnittyContessa 7:56 AM  

I enjoyed it. It took me awhile to get into the groove but once it fell, it fell. Finished the puzzle before I finished my coffee which is super fast for a Saturday.

Didn't know LMM was a thing. Not familiar with the 14 Holy Helpers or ST VITUS and I'm Catholic. ALTAI was new to me, too. Really liked TALKS IN A WHISPER.

Enjoy your Saturday, everyone!

OffTheGrid 8:04 AM  

@N. I'm with you and Rex.

Geezer 8:11 AM  

I am puzzled. Victoria's Secret's products are very revealing. So, what's the secret?

Z 8:16 AM  

@Conrad - More information than you probably care about: Players on the championship team are also champions. For example, Isiah Thomas is a back-to-back NBA Champion. Pelé really is the only player to win the World Cup three times, 1958, 1962, and 1970. In order to repeat his feat someone would have to be very good very young and be on a National Team capable of winning three times in a row or three out of four like Brazil did. Pelé was 17 when he won his first World Cup. The US’ hot young star is already 21 and hasn’t even played in a World Cup game. The best two players in recent years play on teams not quite good enough to actually win a championship, managing one Finals loss between the two of them. Several countries have won three or more times, but only Brazil in such a short time frame. In this century there have been five different champions, so Pelé is unlikely to be matched anytime soon.

Leslie 8:19 AM  

My hubby is a gastroenterologist so ilea was a gimme lol. I knew it would come in handy one day.

Blue Stater 8:38 AM  

Well, I understand OFL's criticisms, but still, this week was the first Thurs-Fri-Sat sequence that I have gotten without help since the puzzles started to go south under WS's dubious leadership. So I'm feeling pretty good about this one.

bauskern 8:45 AM  

Like others, I found today's puzzle on the easy side, but I'm really not going to complain about that. And a puz with a triple stack? Love it!
It would be easy to fault Rex yet again for whining about the editor's clues, and for once again "forgetting" to keep track of his time (isn't there a pause function?) even though he is always quick to tell us how fast he is on his good days, but, hey, why bother? That's the price of admission to this theme park. Happy Saturday everyone.

Anonymous 9:01 AM  

I AM a gastroenterologist and I never heard of it.

Carola 9:10 AM  

VAST immediately gave away the SECRET to opening up the grid, so "me, too" for finding this a fast Saturday.
Help from previous puzzles: COATI, EULER.
New to me: AGNI, ALTAI.
@egsforbreakfast 1:20 - Good eye!
@A Schiff 6:44 - I'd give that an LOL if it weren't so tragic.

RooMonster 9:16 AM  

Hey All !
For me, this was an amazing feat of construction. Also for me, considering the constraints of all the 15's (crossing, no less), it has very light dreck. Let me shout this again: ALL PUZS HAVE DRECK. This one, to me was super-clean. The worst I see is ARY. Rex couldn't make a puz this clean with this many 15's and 7's. Me neither. Bravo Royce!

I do agree with the Easy assessment. Finished in 16:34, not trying for speed. Usually triple stacks destroy me, but went along swimmingly in this one. I think it might be my SatPuz record.

So, let's see, 14 Threes, with two Abbrs. NFL, IPS , a suffix ARY, and a RRN XII. Rest actual words. And a ROO! 22 Fours, most actual words, 8 Fives, ALTAI APLIT -ese-y, but not obscure, (great clue on PETES), 10 Sevens, even multiple KEATONS passes muster from the clue (and OINKERS!), and 8 Fifteens! Wow! Y'all meh-ers can GLIDE away! 😁

So, a great Puz. Royce. Don't let the wo/man get you down! (See what I did there?)

One F

ChuckD 9:26 AM  

On the quick side for a Saturday. Not overly fresh but I enjoyed the solve. The grid is impressive with that large cross in the center. Agree that the longs were a little boring - although WIN PLACE SHOW is a really good one and I also liked TALKS IN A WHISPER. I actually knew ST VITUS from a decent metal club in Brooklyn where I’ve seen Anthrax and a couple of other bands. They took their name from the band of course but a friend of mine once explained the background. I don’t remember learning anything about him in 12 years of catholic school.

I was hoping Rex would have an explanation for the Slash - SHE entry. I just thought it referred to He/She relationship but still unclear.

Terry 9:41 AM  

VICTORIASSECRET is sexist and offensive but when you include trans-sexuals it's repulsive.

Rube 9:44 AM  

Marc I also can't be bothered with MTW and some Th. And your comment is echoed regularly by other commenters.
So given the Times' willingness to expand its puzzle section, why can't they add one more puzzle a week ..maybe even on Monday...that is really hard?

Sgreennyc 9:50 AM  

This was on the easy side but enjoyable just the same. Rex’s Shortz-envy is becoming sadder by the day.

Nancy 9:55 AM  

There was a big difference for me between the bottom half which I found easy and the top half which I found hard. Not knowing VICTORIA'S SECRET was a sticking point; I tried to think of "retailers" who had "models" -- not Walmart, not Trader Joe's, not even Saks Fifth Avenue -- and came up empty. But when VICTORIA'S SECRET came in from the crosses, I was one happy camper and knew I was going to solve successfully.

This was an engrossing puzzle for me -- one that held my attention completely. I especially liked the clues for OWEN (55D) and BROODED (41A). A couple of thoughts:

1. CLOSED BOOK TESTS seemed like a retronym in the manner of "acoustic guitar" or "landline phone". In my day, or at least in my day at the various schools I attended, all tests were CLOSED BOOK TESTS. When, later in life, I found out that there were such things as "open book tests", I couldn't help thinking to myself: "Aren't they lucky!"

2. Knowing that "ST VITUS dance" is the term for some ghastly illness, it was hard to think of ST VITUS as anyone's "Helper", "Holy" or otherwise. I initially wanted ST tITUS, whoever he is.

kitshef 10:00 AM  

I just finished reading Roger Zelazny’s Lord of Light YESTERDAY, and it still took me ages to see AGNI.

Never heard anyone say ALL ALONG THE LINE, but the internet suggests it’s fine.

porKERS before OINKERS, anyone?

Wanted the full video for ONCE IN A LIFETIME, rather than just a still picture from Rex.

kitshef 10:02 AM  

@Conrad – further to @Z’s answer, there are also no women who have won three football/soccer world cups. The clue is not specific to men.

But … the clue is also not specific to FIFA world cups. So, for example (Mireya) LUIS would fit (women’s volleyball world cup three-time champion).

Anonymous 10:06 AM  

two green paints and if VICTORIA ... is a gimme, then easy, a bit of messy -ese here and there

pmdm 10:07 AM  

The grid made me recall a Friday Maleska-style grid. I like long stacks and I liked this puzzle, which I think was indeed a little easier than most Saturday puzzles. Which is why I'm posting earlier than usual on a Saturday.

Z: I agree whoeheartedly with what you said yesterday. I intentionally downplayed my reaction to the constructor's comments. It seems to me many new constructors fall into this trap, although most are more reticent than to brag about their intentions. My impression of Agard's frist puzzles published in the NYT struck me that way, but like many others he has certainly moved on. That judgment may be influenced by my dislike of contemporary slang and therefore sound more harsh than it should.

Anonymous 10:08 AM  

Joining the chorus to say that objectively, it was indeed easy -- finished in about half my average Saturday time -- although I did get annoyingly hung up in the south because I wanted the trifecta to start with triple, and because of various other things too boring to reconstruct.

HOMO was pretty annoyingly clued. I think what's meant is that it's part of HOMO Sapiens, which is who we are as a species. But the use of second person plus the outdated slang meaning of the answer together produced a disconcerting effect, and it probably took at least 10 minutes after I had finished the puzzle before I got it. Then I went to bed, and when I woke up and came here, I didn't understand it all over again and went through the same process. The cluing for CHIS right next door was also a little annoying. I kept imagining either cartoon moonshine jugs, or something to do with porn. On the plus side, AGNI seems pretty fresh, and just barely enough within my memory bank to ignite a spark of recognition.

As I've said before, I like these puzzles with vast stretches in them, because they would seem to test the skill of the constructor not to have too many groaners. ILEA by the way would be known to people who do SB. Plural of ileum. I would just assume this is basic anatomy; I've known of the word for years and years, even if I can't define it precisely. Oh, and there's Mr. EULER again! Hi!

---[SB Alert]---

---[yesterday spoilers in rot-13]---

There was a long and heartfelt lamentation last night about the quality of the answers in recent puzzles, and I feel that pain. Actually, a number of people, including stalwarts like Pamela by recent testimony, have been getting their butts kicked, and that includes me. For example, "hemophage" from the other day was what occurred to me as well as the pangram, but it was rejected in favor of HOMEPAGE which is a bit execrable IMHO. I suspect Sam Ezersky is a wunderkind who hasn't developed a good feel for what is obscure and what isn't. (Just because a word is derived from the Greek doesn't make it more obscure.)

I had made it to Genius yesterday with 7 to go, but I really cannot allow these puzzles to eat up so much of my time which needs to be spent on more pressing things. Yeah, some of the seven might have been gettable with more time. But as in the case of HOMEPAGE, I think I was very unaware that (ROT-13) "pngpnyyf" is a single unhyphenated word. The acceptable "pnggnvyf" -- sure, that's fine, and well known.

JD 10:09 AM  

This was difficult for me because I wouldn't use the language this way. A few examples.

A Prop is something used during a performance or demonstration. The sealed envelope at the Oscars serves an actual purpose in a competition. It's sealed so no one leaks the answer and it exists so we can find out who won. Like a hand-delivered letter. Not a prop.

Because most tests aren't Open Book for most of us, almost no one says Closed Book Test. We just say Test.

How would you use Learn One's Lesson in a sentence?

Do Indian women only wear Saris on their wedding day? Would you clue Dress as certain American wedding garb.

Admired a great deal in this puzzle, but some of it felt like work hard just for the sake of being a Saturday.

Like @Nancy, I did love Brooded and Owen. Clever!

Anonymous 10:11 AM  

In Roman numerals.

Joe Welling 10:14 AM  

I disagree on PETES. Although it was easy enough to get, "For whose sake?" is not a legitimate crossword clue for PETES. Crossword clues are the equivalent of the answer, not a question to be answered. This is an inappropriately easy fill-in-the-blank clue, "FOR ____ SAKE," made more difficult by leaving the realm of crossword cluing.

Joe Welling 10:16 AM  

Anonymous Geezer said...
"I am puzzled. Victoria's Secret's products are very revealing. So, what's the secret?"

I always assumed that meant these were things Victoria only secretly wore (either under other clothing or in very private circumstances).

Whatsername 10:24 AM  

A solid Saturday which while mostly easyish, still required Uncle Google to keep me from going in the TANK. And that grid! I like to study the blank grid and imagine the possibilities and this one was very pleasing to the eye. Love those long stacks and don’t care about whether they’re sparkly or flashy. The only one I didn’t really like was ALLALONGTHELINE which I just couldn’t equate to “from day one.” So I BROODED over that for a bit before moving on. Great clues for OWEN and HOMO but agree with Rex that the LMM monogram is pretty obscure.

It occurred to me that seeing a transgender model at a VICTORIASSECRET fashion show might be a ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME opportunity. Might S/HE be wearing a SARI by chance? Asking for a friend. I used to work at a cereal factory where I kept a pair of shoes in my desk for the days when I wore OPENTOE sandals and needed to go in the production area. Naturally they were old clunkers which, combined with the hideous industrial grade hairnet also required, made me quite a fetching sight.

Speaking of tree hugging VINEs, I have a wisteria which will not die. I’ve poured about a gallon of Roundup on it but it comes right back. I tried digging out the roots but it just sprouts up in another spot. The thing is just impervious. Don’t ever plant one unless you are prepared for it to take over any structure within its potential path. Scary stuff.

Re yesterday’s complaints about Spelling Bee, add another thumbs-down vote. So little time and too many crosswords, too many books, too many men - oops, sorry my mind slipped there. Anyway, I’m tired of the frustration of perfectly good words “not on the list” only to find answers that no ordinary human ever spoke or would have reason to even know. Done and done.

Arden 10:32 AM  

Fine clever puzzle. You people are such grouches!

Tom Nawrocki 10:33 AM  

ghhthree: I also suddenly had no access to the puzzle when I went to print it out on Thursday, with just an "internal server error" message. It took me a while to figure out that the Times had decided I needed to subscribe to the Games package. Up till now, I've always had access to the daily puzzle (though not Spelling Bee or any of that other stuff) because of my NYTimes subscription. I only get the physical paper on Sunday, if that makes any difference.

Anyway, I ponied up my 20 bucks, and all is right with the world. I'm not really bothered by this, although it would have been nice if the Times had told me what was going on. If this wasn't the result of a shift in policy for subscribers, then I have no idea what's going on. Good luck.

Birchbark 10:36 AM  

"All sorts of ST. VITUSes and cataleptics." Jerry Garcia sings this, almost as an aside, on a children's album he did with David Grisman ("Not for Kids Only"). He's having fun with an odd line in a silly and forgettable song. But I imagine it early in the second set of a good Grateful Dead show with ease -- "This is surprising, kind of funny, who knows what's on the other side of the door."

ILEA is the plural of "ileum" (not to be confused with ILIUM, the hip bone). The ileum is the end of the small intestine. My facsimile of a 1901 "Gray's Anatomy" and "Ultimate Picture Dictionary 2000" only refer to "ileum" in the singular. My Webster's Medical Dictionary entry for ILEA says "See Ileum." I will defer to the gastroenterologists among us, but pluralizing seems a stretch -- similar to when we some times see AORTAE.

RoccoChaz 10:42 AM  

OWEN. I laughed. I’ll admit it.

jberg 10:46 AM  

@Diver—Rex’s point was not that ILEA is obscure—he got it, if misspelled—but that he finds it yucky, due to its intestinality. Didn’t bother me.

Anonymous 10:50 AM  

only one quibble: BONSAI is as much a verb as noun - the process of retarding the growth of a tree, a process which never ends. let's see if the dictionary agrees ... well maybe:
"the art of growing dwarfed ornamental varieties of trees or shrubs in small shallow pots or trays by selective pruning, etc"

one might interpret that as the process. yeah, one might not say "I bonsai at the week end"

in any case, if you're in DC, visit the National Arboretum in far Northeast, almost to Maryland, and see the extensive exhibit. it's been there are least since the early 70s when I was there.

nor would I think of BONSAI as exported goods. well, rich guys buy Trophy Wives rather than building a relationship. same with BONSAI: years of careful care. it's something would make, not something you buy.

jberg 10:56 AM  

I enjoyed looking at the grid, with the big cross in honor of Saints Vitus and Pete; and I enjoyed discovering each of the 15s. But I do agree with all the criticisms.

@Nancy, when I started teaching I would give open book tests, but I quit because the essays were not as good. Students would copy passages from the book instead of integrating the material.

Minor point: unadorned is a bowl of rice with some tasty eel on top of it. The “main ingredient” is rice.

Barbara S. 10:57 AM  

I love Saturday puzzles that I can solve all my own. I don't care how long it takes, although this one seemed fast for me -- less than half an hour.

I was initially intimidated by all the spanners, but got them amazingly easily. The last to fall was ALLALONGTHELINE, with its slightly strange clue. I thought SARI was clued strangely, too, as SARIs seem to be way more than wedding wear. UNEDGED bothered me a bit -- does anyone actually say that? But I loved TALKS IN A WHISPER, SEA BLUE, WIN PLACE AND SHOW, and the ever-popular OINKERS.

40D PELICAN brought Ogden NASH to mind, particularly because he was in the puzzle on Monday. (And also today we had NAST of similar name.)

A wonderful bird is the PELICAN
His bill can hold more than his belican
He can hold in his beak
Enough food for a week
But I'm damned if I see how the helican.

Ernonymous 11:05 AM  

The best thing about this puzzle is that my son gave me an answer. He is 32 years old with mental disabilities. There is a lot that he cannot do, like tie shoes, draw a picture, ride a bike, wash his hair. But a certain part of his brain is very developed. In the areas of his interest he has a lot of specific knowledge. He is interested in Fish, whales, bugs, animals, sports teams, super heros. And he knows in great detail the differences between all the various types of sharks and great cats and what continent they live on.

I was stuck at the COATI answer but when I saw the clue Long Snout Striped Tail I KNEW he knew it. I said what animal has a long snout and a striped tail? He said I don't know. Then he said Oh a raccoon and I said NO a long snout. So he said COATI MUNDI but I never heard of it and I didn't understand him so it sounded like Koala Monkey. I kept said KOALA? Monkey? He kept repeating it and I was lost. He went and got his phone and he typed in, perfectly spelled: COATIMUNDI and got the wikipedia page and handed it to me. He really doesn't read or write, with a pen anyway but he types words, not sentences. He reads but the words out of order/ The other day I asked him about the Spiny Fish named for a bird and he gave me SEA RAVEN. I never would have got that on my own. He is handy with all these superhero and sports teams, stadiums and college teams clues too.
I don't count it cheating when he gives me an answer! That was really fun!

mathgent 11:06 AM  

I liked it a lot. I felt the constructor’s personality coming through. He seems like a cool guy.

I went to Catholic schools my whole education and never heard of the Fourteen Holy Helpers.

I liked being reminded of BROODED. The hen is indeed on eggshells when brooding.

We watched PELICAN Brief on Netflix the other night, one of their free movies. Hadn’t seen it since it came out. Not very good but fun to see a young Denzel Washington.

I’m happy to finally meet the trio who make up my small intestine.

Anonymous 11:08 AM  

as far back as the 70s, math and physics tests were often OPEN BOOK, esp. grad classes. they are harder by design, since the questions require the student to integrate disparate material from the book(s) and handouts and lecture notes in real time. these ain't multiple guess quizzes. not for the feint of heart.

OffTheGrid 11:12 AM  

@Sgreennyc. Your comment prompted a thought. If a poll of commenters on this blog were possible, I wonder how many would prefer Rex as editor. I would.

Barbara S. 11:18 AM  


Continuing yesterday’s discussion. I was saddened to hear of @Frantic Sloth’s withdrawal from the game (8:30 p.m.). I understand and respect your decision – I often have such frustrations myself, don’t we all? But @FS, you sired me; you’re my mentor! It was because of your comments about SB way back in March(ish) that I got interested and began playing the game. So, boo hoo. I miss you already.

@Roo 2:53 p.m., yesterday
My performance, too, has recently tanked. For the first half of July, I was batting 500, getting QB about half the time. For the last week, nada – even missed Genius one day. I, too, often find amazingly easy words very late in the solve. Yesterday, the last word I found was PRYY! One of the first I’d got was PRYYV – why on earth didn’t my brain make the connection immediately?? Anyway, all that to say that I think this week’s SBs have been particularly hard. And also that we all have streaks, both winning and losing, that are just part of playing the game.

The sparkle hasn't gone for me -- maybe it will, but I'm still enjoying the challenge, even when I'm not doing well. And I love learning new words.

For Pedro’s Sake 11:23 AM  

ENE and EñE are spelled the same. The clue doesn’t say they are the same word.

Dakstak 11:26 AM  

Too true. Also, “rod and reel” is an actual expression, ergo nothing wrong with ROD as clued. Agni not just a name of a Hindu god, but also an Indian ballistic missile (so the name is gettable, even without deep knowledge of Hinduism).

I’m still trying to figure out why Rex likes certain clues; it seems like he hates 99% of them for being too old fashioned, for not looking like real words out of context, or because he doesn’t know what they are.

Smith 11:27 AM  

@ghh3 12:28

I was not able to access the puzzles Thurs or Fri. Late yesterday I "chatted" with a rep who eventually made it possible for me to access "Games", but no print functionality. She told me that "they are aware of the problem". She sent me a pdf of Fri puzzle, but still no print today, so now I'm solving on phone. Grr. But on the good side, SB no longer kicks me out after pangram and I can play Letterboxed.

So, on Monday if we still can't print, we can get a live chat person who can send a pdf of the crossword. If enough people make the request they'll probably fix it in a hurry!

It seems to be connected to the name switch on the link from "Crossword" to "Games".


Anonymous 11:29 AM  

The New Yorker Monday puzzle is about the same difficulty as a Friday NYT.

Lewis 11:31 AM  

@giovanni -- Terrific post!

TJS 11:40 AM  

Man, I'm with Rex all the way on this one. The only credit I gave this puzzle was that it was a bitch for me to solve. Now I find out here that it was a laugher for many. I have never heard anyone say "closed book test" that I can recall. Had "learning a lesson" which I still like better, which resulted in my awarding Belgium 3 World Cup Championships. And I'm not in @Z's camp with individuals being referred to as Champions when they play team sports. It's the team that is the Champion.Otherwise you end up calling some guy at the end of the bench "Six time World Champion Joe Schmo". Oh, and "All along the line" does not equate with "from day one" to my ear. OK, I'm good now. Bye.
Wait, "AP" added to courses sucks too.

tkincher 11:40 AM  

ENES clued as NBA player Kanter would at least have been better, I think (especially since you also have the AÑO clue in here).

William of Ockham 11:44 AM  

Clues are supposed to be somewhat obscure on Saturday, people.

Need a spoon? Sheeeeesh.

albatross shell 11:55 AM  

Had to work my way to the bottom to get anything really useful. Well, maybe the the EXILED-SARI cross. Then easy as one two three: WIN PLACE AND SHOW. Then worked from the bottom up. The top triple holding out last and longest. Needed Mr. G for help on some pop culture names and the dancer's Saint. Did not know ILEA and for the most part think breakfast tests are silly. Different standard for evening crosswords? Got XII but had to come here to get it. Duh.

I love BONSAI, plural or not.
Triple stacks not sparkly or current, but primo and solid. Not stolid.

If you think VICTORIASECRET is sexist you are probably fighting foolish battles. Transgenders do not have equal rights until they can do what other women do without attracting the extra criticism of repulsive to the situation. Maybe delete that post?

Speaking of NAST, president maker, Trudeau has a new Trump book. Lewser! CAPITOL UNEDGED?

COATI ALTAI was an evil cross.

JD 11:56 AM  

@giovanni, Your joyful post makes day. Thanks!

@Bauskern, You've reached acceptance. I've spoken to the committee (me and my inner loon - lune?) and am naming one Stage 5 type experience The Price of Admission, in your honor. Remember that evidence shows there may be movement back through previous stages.

Alex M 12:03 PM  

Surprised Rex didn't care for this more (then again, it's Rex...) I thought there was a decent amount of sparkle and the clueing and wordplay felt clever! The last thing I filled in was "Good name for a debtor?" (OWEN), so I finished with a legitimate giggle :)

egsforbreakfast 12:12 PM  

@JD 10:09. Ignoring the fact that your question used LEARN ONES LESSON in an interrogatory sentence, you could also have a sentence like this : One should try to LEARN ONES LESSON from each new experience.

Nancy from Chicago 12:25 PM  

I mostly liked this puzzle, although "all along the line" doesn't feel "in the language" to me.

Mostly just came to comment to say how much I liked @Giovanni's post!

pyroclasts 12:25 PM  

Open-book tests are generally considerably harder when they’re given in a 50 or 75-minute lecture section than closed-book, let me tell you!

The prof doesn’t have to worry about you forgetting a formula or theorem or something, so they can ramp up the difficulty and test whether you really get the underlying concepts. Add in the fact that if you’re looking up how to do every problem from examples in your notes, you’ve got no chance of finishing the exam in time.

In short, anyone besmirching the difficulty of open-book tests would LEARN ONE’S LESSON upon actually taking one

Crimson Devil 12:29 PM  

Rep. Schiff: good catch. Some lessons are hard-learned; perhaps Sen Sue did.

JC66 12:32 PM  

I miss MAS.


Wonderful post. Thanks for sharing.

TJS 12:33 PM  

@giovanni, Thank you so much for sharing the experience with your son. Best start to my day in recent memory.

Kathy 12:38 PM  

@Giovanni, not only is it not cheating, the Giovanni & Son solving team is most welcome! Thank you for sharing your story.

The puzzle...The long words came easy and were fun to crack; the dreck was a slog and there was too much of it. But I must say that any Saturday puzzle that I can solve with only one error doesn’t tick me off too much.

RiseAndLookAroundYou 12:42 PM  

@Terry 9:41
I agree about sexist and offensive in relation to VICTORIASSECRET, but if you're calling transsexuals repulsive, I couldn't disagree more. People are people, with all the good qualities and bad qualities of all other people. Who cares how they look, who they love or what they wear. What matters is their people-ness. I strongly urge you not to give in to hatred or fear, if that's the way you're tending. All that will do is imprison you for life.

@Giovanni 11:05
Thanks for all that love.

Crimson Devil 12:55 PM  

Amen Giovanni.

What? 12:55 PM  

Eight 15’mers - are you kidding me? I dabble in construction and the thought of making such a puzzle never enters my mind (well, it does enter but is immediately kicked out, thus alleviating pain in the ilea).
It was an easy solve but eight 15’mers?

Anonymous 12:59 PM  

Z, Nein. Die MannschafT gewinnt die nachstern drei Welsmeisterscahaften.

TTrimble 1:01 PM  

(I was the Anonymous of 10:08. Thought I had signed my name.)

Repulsive, really? Is it that you go, "well, clearly that's a man; I can see the Adam's apple"? Or is it that you don't like the thought that there might be junk down there that's not to your taste, a la The Crying Game? Or what is it, exactly?

(To be fair, I totally understand that such things can take some getting used to, and there are some aspects of gender politics where I definitely skew conservative. For example -- and this is a total aside here -- the idea that I might be compelled to use the pronoun forms "they/them/theirs" in a way that goes directly against my sense of logic and grammar -- now that's repulsive. To me. Now, I would never flout the wishes of someone and use "he/him/his" in place of those, but it takes only a modicum of writing skills to avoid having to use certain pronoun forms altogether if one considers them grammatically wrong, and I'll be god-damned if anyone is going to make me use them if I don't want to! This by the way is not a hypothetical scenario: there are real-life cases where people have been stripped of their positions because they want to be able to exercise their writerly rights in this regard, or are simply asking questions about this.)

In a scenario like the Victoria's Secrets models, it seems to me that being transgender wouldn't confer any especial advantages, and so why not? They look like women to me, they self-identify as women, and whatever equipment they carry is none of my business. A much harder case might be in sports, where basic biological endowments might uneven the playing field.

---[SB again]---

@Frantic Sloth
Really, you're quitting SB? That'd make me sad. I'd miss your wise words.

@Barbara S.
Happens to me to. Hey, at least PRYYV and PRYY refer to completely different things. Like a dummy, I had yesterday's GNPGVPNY but then overlooked GNPGVP!!! Maybe because I'm more used to using GNPGVPF (which of course was unavailable). But it takes a special boneheadedness to miss that.

Frantic Sloth 1:04 PM  

@Giovanni Allow me to join the chorus in celebration of your beautiful post - and son! ❤️ That is one for the ages - thank you.

@Anonymous 901am "I AM a gastroenterologist and I never heard of it."

I didn't realize Bazooka bubble gum was still offering mail-order medical degrees with their decoder rings. Go know. 🧐😉

@Barbara S Awww! Now I feel bad, but I'm happy to let you carry the SB of "funsery" standard into battle from here. Good luck and may your enjoyment hold steady! ☺️
🦥 out.

Masked and Anonymous 1:14 PM  

I'm mostly in the @Lewis camp, on this one. Impressive theme-free puz build.

OK, so if U got more grid spanners than snot, and only 66 words with only 31 black-splatz, you'll have that nifty, subtle slobber of desperation here and there. The xword gods demand their due. Man, them desperate moments were sure spaced far apart, in this puppy, tho.

staff weeject pick: ARY. Solid desperation specimen. Better SatPuz clue: {What's needed in G, Indiana??}.

New stuff learned: AGNI. M&A is really unschooled, in fire god lore. Also, ENES as clued seems new-ish, at our house. APLIT was kinda mysterious, but pretty easy to conjure up … We've had a lotta AP-stuff, lately.


Mighty cool BROODED clue.


We've been gettin some real *different* theme-free puzgrid designs, so far this Fri/Sat weekend. Like.

Thanx for the eazy-E but impressive puzzlin experience, Mr. Ferguson. The grid design was a definite "+".

Masked & AnonymoUUs

illustrated. DownHome option recommended, today:

pyroclasts 1:27 PM  

Disappointed Terry's TERF crap was approved

Re: trans rights, take a lesson from Bob's playbook

Come gather 'round, people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You'll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth savin'
And you better start swimmin'
Or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin'

Doc John 1:32 PM  

Definitely a record-setting Saturday for me.
Intestines may be gross but they are a part of the body. Deal with it.

Anoa Bob 1:50 PM  

We are riding out the first hurricane of the year down here in coastal south Texas. I wonder if it will blow away the Covid virus. It does give me some extra time on the desktop PC, so I would be remiss if I didn't point out that of the eight alleged grid spanners, three of them, TALK IN A WHISPER, SEALED ENVELOPE and CLOSED BOOK TEST don't measure up---literally---and need a letter-count boost from that oh so helpful letter S. Nothing to become UNEDGED about but it does take away points from the puzzle's overall score, if yous ask me.

Along that line, since there is no distinction between singular and plural words in Japanese (singularity/plurality is indicated by context) the answer to 41D "Some small Asian exports" would be BONSAI. Tacking a gratuitous S on the end is a quick-and-easy plural of convenience and is just plain wrong to boot.

Must do some research to see if I can learn more about @Giovanni's Koala Monkey. Isn't there a statue of one at the Cambodian temple complex at Angkor Wat?

Like to stay longer but must check latest satellite and radar images of hurricane Hanna. The eye is predicted to hit the coast!

Frantic Sloth 1:57 PM  

@TTrimble 101pm a-HA! I thought that Anon was you! Your style is unmistakable. And then there's the rot-13...😉 Thanks for the kind words, but I need to conserve what's left of my sanity.

@All the @Terry responders: 🚨Troll Alert🚨 I empathize with all y'all and needed to martial all of my restraintery not to join in. I try to remember that the 1st Amendment applies to pinheads, ninnies, and cretins, too.

JD 2:06 PM  

@William of Ockam, Respectfully disagree with obscure clues as a blanket statement. There's obscure ... oh didn't know that, and just obscure. I think Rex's "currency or spark or vitality or novelty" is a nice yardstick for judgment.

@egs, Ya got me. As I said, this puzzle doesn't use language the way I do. My "One should try to LEARN ONES LESSON from each new experience" would probably be, "Son, you need to start paying attention and get a clue."

@Barbara S., Yesterday was impossible for me, even though I KNEW what the last three letters had to be and was right. It's been a tough week.

Dave S 2:07 PM  

These are my favorite Saturday moments, when I first glance at the clues and say "Oh, Lord, I don't know any of this stuff", but then it gradually starts to come together. Helped a lot that the long answers were all pretty simple, and I agree they could have had more oomph. But satisfying nevertheless, even if there's less than a 10 percent chance I'll remember the Fire God or that mountain range or what St. Vitus was up to besides dancing next time. Liked the eggshell and tree hugger clues. And yeah, some people do still use s/he.

Shirley 2:10 PM  

To everyone commenting about the inability to print the puzzle:

I began having this problem as well on Weds night (trying to print the Thursday puzzle). Assumed it was the latest Apple upgrade (which always causes problems with Safari on my iMac) but had the same problem going through other browsers.

On Friday afternoon i reached someone at the NYT who said they are aware of the problem, but she had no ETA on a fix.

Ernonymous 2:14 PM  

Thanks for your nice comments and I am glad you enjoyed hearing about my son. He has a very specific wheelhouse. It is very deep in certain topics. He once impressed the worker at the Georgia Aquarium, he knew all the species of fish in this one tank. I got him to give me the answer for that African poisonous snake the other day (MAMBA). He watches the nature shows and looks at nature books. I got him this Smithsonian Natural History book for his birthday- it is pretty cool. His program has been meeting via Zoom and it is okay but a they don't quite understand what is going on with Covid-19, but they know they can't be together. Anyway I might report here when he gives me an answer because it is interesting to see what he knows that I don't know.
He is very happy that baseball is back on, so we are watching it now. He will watch all the teams, he doesn't care. What is with this fake crowd noise? I guess they don't want you to think you are watching golf.

JC66 2:15 PM  

@Anoa Bob

_tay _afe!

Whatsername 2:22 PM  

@Giovanni (11:05) Loved your COATI story! How nice for you to have such a wide variety of knowledge to draw upon when you get stumped. Seems also that his particular interests are subjects which tend to appear frequently in crosswords - and I agree it’s definitely not cheating. Thank you so much for sharing.

@pyroclasts (1:27) Nice!

TTrimble 2:35 PM  

I had somehow missed your wonderful post before. My son has an ASD and so your post struck a special chord, and it really is beautiful. You sound like a wonderful father.

chefwen 2:36 PM  

@Giovanni - A most lovely post. Thank you.

oldactor 2:58 PM  

I used to practice Agni Yoga so that was a big gimme.

Pamela 3:21 PM  

@giovanni- Thank you for sharing. Wonderful post.


@FS- Sorry you’re outta here 😥 But I can’t say I blame you. There’s only just so much frustration anyone can live with. I’ll just have to be consoled by your post on the major topic we’re all here for.👍

@TTrimble, @Barbara S- You two with the ROT-13 forced me to make a chart so I could decipher your posts.
I gave up yesterday with 6 to go. I had all the GNP- words except for GNPRG. My problem was YNVP and all the variations and expansions. There were others, but that whole group eluded me. I had the pangram and had made it to Genius, but no new inspiration was to be had after that point. Today doesn’t seem much better- Genius, 5 words missing for SB. I haven’t given up yet, though.

Pamela 3:35 PM  

@Barbara S- Thanks for the PELICAN bellican hellican. My father loved Ogden Nash, and would wander into the kitchen in his nightshirt at its busiest, when we were all there, and recite from a book of his poetry. This was a favorite- along with the 1, 2, 3 L llama and this one:
Shake and shake the ketchup bottle,
None will come and then a lotl.

Brian Clough 3:36 PM  

At TTremble Re Crying Game. Spoiler Alert again please.

JC66 4:03 PM  

@Brian Clough

Come on, the Crying Game was released in 1992.

albatross shell 4:04 PM  

Me too. Post made my day.

It is gracefully and lovingly appreciating your blessings. It is not cheating.

In my comment about the trans post, I was giving the poster the benefit of the doubt: They were saying it was repulsive that a transgender should have so little sensitivity to issues of sexism and prejudice
to ever participate in that type of show. Maybe I was mistaken and s/he was just upset a trans could be a sexy woman.

Z 4:14 PM  

@pmdm - I don’t mind modern slang and I certainly prefer that PPP be minimal and balanced between current and classic. But I have the same reaction to some 20-something insulting me for not knowing some piece of trivial trivia as I do somebody saying everyone has to read some dead white guy or some piece of music or some river somewhere. Something akin to yuck foo. I mean, just because I know that Frank Tanana threw a 1-0 shut out, with Larry Herndon hitting a solo homer, to clinch the division over Toronto in 1987 after entering the final week behind 3.5 games doesn’t mean I look down on people who don’t know that (I reserve my condescension for BBWAA members who picked George Bell over Alan Trammell for MVP, proving to me they are a bunch of idiots). Anyway, yeah, I expect the guy to grow old and be a “get offfa my lawn” type.

@TJS - So you’re saying Michael Jordan isn’t a six-time NBA champion? I can accept that. 🤣

bertoray 4:22 PM  

And the Bazooka Joe X-Ray Specs don't pick up everything.

Birchbark 4:38 PM  

@Giovanni (2:14) -- I too am happy that baseball is back on. This despite how the Twins are playing this afternoon (White Sox 6, Twins 3, bottom of the 7th). I like the cardboard silhouette fans behind the plate, but it would be more realistic if some of them were checking their cell phones.

Z 4:44 PM  

@kitshef - Thanks. I neglected to mention the Women’s World Cup and other sports never even occurred to me. Mireya Luis benefited from a change in when the volleyball World Cup was played, so got three in 6 years. The basic math/age challenge is the same for most sports since 4 year cycles is the norm. For an athlete to be both good enough long enough on a national team good enough to win often enough is a huge challenge. For women’s soccer that math is compounded by the fact that only 8 World Cups have been played. Looking at the most recent US Women’s National Team Kelly O’Hara is the only one from the 2015 team who seems likely to have a chance to three-peat. Megan Rapinoe is a fan favorite but how many 38 year-olds get called up for World Cup duty?

@Frantic Sloth 1:57 - 😂😂😂😂😂

TTrimble 4:44 PM  

@Brian Clough
Heh -- I'll assume you're kidding. Actually, George Costanza alludes to it after he sees his father's breasts in the bro/manssiere episode, so I assume that cat was out of the bag long ago.

Michiganman 4:49 PM  

Trammell. Those were the days. He and Sweet Lou Whitaker were one of the best SS/2B combos ever. Say, aren't we a little overdue for a WS champeenship? '84 was a long time ago.

Anonymous 5:01 PM  

"It's like my own personal Crying Game" if I remember correctly. And no Banlon!

Duke 5:11 PM  

I also started to have difficulty accessing the printable puzzle. I logged into my account and learned two things. 1) I've been a subscriber for 35 years 2) I am currently paying almost $1,000 a year to have the paper delivered. WHAT? I would see the $475 charge on my credit card statement periodically (pun) and thought it was a fair price for a year of the NYT. But that was actually a charge for just 6 months.

I called customer service and complained about not being able to get the printable puzzle. The rep told me that the puzzle was a separate subscription and it was a glitch that I'd been able to get it in the past. His only solution (pun) was for me to pay another $30 per year to get the puzzle.

I wigged out and told the rep to cancel my subscription entirely. The rep asked me why. I told him that $1,000 was too much to pay and asking me for even more $ to get the crossword to download was beyond reasonable.

He did the old "let me see what I can do for you" charade and came back with an offer that cut the price of the subscription by 50%. I accepted.

If he had told me, as others heard, that this was a problem they are working on then I'd still be paying full price.

JMajers 5:31 PM  

I was reading the clue for RIPA at the precise moment that I received a news alert about the death of Regis Philbin, to whom I immediately extended A silent RIP.

sf27shirley 5:32 PM  

I've always thought it meant the secrets of Queen Victoria or women in the Victorian era, prim and proper on the outside while hiding their passion.

Susan E 6:46 PM  

I also have home delivery and no crossword subscription. When delivery fails, I go online, and under My Account menu find “Replica Edition.” This is like a pdf of the whole paper, ads and all. Page thru to the crossword page, and home in to magnify the grid and clues. Delineate the area with your cursor and “Print.” Hah.

Monty Boy 7:25 PM  

I liked this one a lot. Mostly because I finished in about half average with two lookups (to confirm words I didn't know).

@Giovanni Loved you story. I have a friend, Todd, with Down Syndrome who remembers names (among other skills). At church he will greet 50 or more people by name. My retirement job is teaching engineering classes and have a hard time remembering 20 or so names each semester. The movie Smile as Big as the Moon is a great testimony to everyone having skills.

On tests: Some of my classes have material not suited for either a closed or open book test in one class period. When I announce a take-home test, everyone is thrilled until I tell them I now have no limits on the number or type of questions I use, or the time it might take them. I'm kind, though, and usually have only one question with multiple parts. They have to use the whole chapter or two. I try to make the test so they can do in in 2 to 3 hours if they have done the homework and read the material. If they haven't, it takes longer.

On Victoria's: My wife has several items from there. She says they are the most well made and comfortable.

Dr. P. 9:22 PM  

Same. I do only Fri/Sat puzzles. This weekend offered almost no challenges.

Anoa Bob 9:39 PM  

Whew, the worst is over for us in the southern half of hurricane Hanna. There was some gusty winds, maybe 40-45 mph, and quite a bit of rain, but nothing torrential, so all in all, this was a mild storm. I don't know the extent of damage further up the coast. We only lost power for 30 minutes or so. You don't realize how much you rely on (and love) your electrical appliances and gadgets until the power goes off.

JC66 @2:15, my brief "huh?" at your cryptic message quickly turned into a genuine guffaw, so thanks for that.

I'm going in to the kitchen now and hug the refrigerator. Hasta la proxima.

JC66 10:50 PM  

@Anoa Bob

Thanks, glad you're OK.

Pamela 10:53 PM  

@Anoa Bob- Glad you made it through.


I give up, 2 words short. I think I’ve tried all possibilities, but if that were so I’d be triumphant, and I’m most decidedly not. So much for the winning streak. Maybe tomorrow.

Duke 5:57 AM  

Thank you, Susan. I did what you suggested and it worked.

Jayme 12:05 PM  


I think I should very much like to be a visitor at your and Jane’s house one nice weekend morning, I envision you both enjoying a cup of coffee on the porch with your crosswords. Best of luck resolving your account issue!

spacecraft 10:49 AM  


This one was so open, it looked UNEDGED (???!). What a yucky word! Is it real? [looks up] By the INEXILE Dalai Lama, it is! Go figure.

As usual with a spate of gridspanners, it looked daunting at first, but proved pretty much of a pussycat to do. You know the drill. The long ones were okay; the weakest being ALLALONGTHELINE and the ONES of LEARNONESLESSON. The fill was passable; even XII is good because of the clue. DOD? One of the KEATONS, Diane of course. Just about any employee of 1a gets honorable mention. Birdie.

Anonymous 1:09 PM  

A complete pisser infestation - bad right from the beginning and never lets up. No fun or enjoyment in this one.

Diana, LIW 1:24 PM  

Um...err...did I say something about not being afraid of long answers? Did the Times hear me? Sorry.

Especially sorry when crossed with short unknowns. And, as mentioned by @Spacey, UNEDGED - said by no one, ever.

Think I'll go for a walk now and clear my head for Sunday.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for non-trivia contests

thefogman 1:27 PM  

The NY Times xword needs a new editor. Too much junk is routinely getting the green light by WS.

Burma Shave 2:23 PM  




leftcoaster 3:35 PM  

The stacked grid spanners on top and bottom and the two downs cutting through them made this one relatively easy to deal with. Lots to play with.

Some of the shorter crosses weren't much help, including AGNI, ENES at the top, and ALTAI, TIEWRAP in the middle. Also wanted IsP before IPS under the big cross in the middle of the grid. And took a bit to see XXX's as CHI'S.

Enjoyed this friendly Saturday, thanks to Royce Ferguson.

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