Mammalian hematophage / SAT 7-18-20 / Do-or-die hockey situation / Actor Lane who voiced Mister Ed / Purchases at Ollivanders, in fantasy / Historic region of northern France / Predecessor of Outlook

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Constructor: John Guzzetta and Michael Hawkins

Relative difficulty: Medium (8-ish?)

THEME: none

Word of the Day: PICARDY (42D: Historic region of northern France) —
A historical region of northern France [🙁bordering on the English Channel. The name was first used in the 1200s for a number of small feudal holdings. Picardy was contested by France and England during the Hundred Years' War and became part of the French crown lands in 1477.
• • •

I psyched myself up before this one and really, actively tried to like it, and for a while, things were pretty OK, but then the eastern part of the puzzle happened and my good will got depleted fast. It annoys me no end when editorial cutesiness results in actually bad cluing. Like, you want to use [Kismet] twice ... why? What is cute or interesting about that? The only thing that leads to is a very misleading and totally inapt clue for LOTINLIFE, which is already super-dated-sounding and hard to parse. FATE, yes, great, I got that, but LOTINLIFE has a tonal quality that is so much more downbeat than the word "kismet" suggests. FATE can kinda swing either way, but "kismet" swings up and LOTINLIFE swings down. I can't imagine the former in a negative context on the latter in a positive one. That answer next to EVEN TENOR (ugh) was just brutal for me to put together. I had the EVEN and still no idea what was supposed to go after it. I blame ANT, which ... again, why are you so enamored of this "same clue for two answers" baloney. [Ones seeking table scraps, maybe] works great for PET DOGS, but for ANT, gah, stop, what are you doing? I mean, sure, ants will eat any food. You are being dishonest about the nature of the word "scrap" here with your stupid ANT clue.



A plié is a DIP since when? Those are drastically different dance terms. Yes, a plié involves bending the knees and thus, uh, lowering your torso, generally, but that ain't a DIP. I had PAS in there, which is at least a balletic term. DIP, shmip, my god. PICARDY I didn't know at all—"historic region" strikes me as pretty vague. Also pretty obscure. Hasn't been in the grid for *twenty-five years*. Speaking of stuff that hasn't been in the grid for over two decades: ODELET (36D: Short lyric poem) (last seen in 1998). Honestly, that answer is so dumb I couldn't believe it was real as I was writing it in. I have a Ph.D. in English and somehow missed the ODELET form entirely. It's so obscure and so phony that google refuses to believe I want information about it, insisting that I must have simply misspelled / typo'd the word "delete"; fitting, as I would like to "delete" ODELET from this grid (and all future grids)

I like the answer ELDERLAW because I like the show "Better Call Saul," and the main character, Jimmy McGill, works (memorably) in the field of ELDERLAW for a while (58A: Field with estate planning). Still, that was a hard answer for me to turn up. Same with WET. And CALF, ugh. FLOE and BERG fit there too (54A: Detached piece of ice). Wanted HAM-FISTED before HAM-HANDED (34D: All thumbs). Oh, really struggled with [Red cents?] for DEBT and [A, as in April?] for SCHEDULE. That [A, as in April?] clue is a bit of a thinker—SCHEDULE A is used for itemized deductions when you file your taxes, which are due in ... April. Man I wish I liked financial humor more. The puzzle played kinda old, with its watch FOBs and ODELETs and "ERI tu" and this ALLAN what's his name (49D: Actor Lane who voiced Mister Ed). This puzzle probably still uses HOTMAIL (11D: Predecessor of Outlook). There's some perfectly fine stuff in this grid, and YOU HAD TO BE THERE is a very nice centerpiece, but the offness of a few answers really interfered with the pleasurableness of the whole solve. I really expect the NYTXW themelesses to be better than just OK.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. Ollivanders is not "in fantasy" (50A: Purchases at Ollivanders, in fantasy)—it's specifically in the Harry Potter universe. Own your J.K. Rowling content! "In fantasy" is a dodge.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Joaquin 12:11 AM  

I thought this was a dandy Saturday puzzle; lots of new stuff, plenty of head-scratchers, and a few new things learned.

I do, however, agree with Rex regarding the SCHEDULE A clue. That was a bit "out there".

Harryp 12:13 AM  

OFL beat me to ELDER LAW and Slippin' Jimmy McGill, since I had just binge-watched Better Call Sol on Netflix for the gimmie. Lots of interesting fill, but well within Saturday normal. I liked SEA CHANGE intersecting RED SKY, and remembered that Disco Stu's Jacket was originally Homer Simpson's Disco Stud, which he didn't leave enough room for. EXNIHILO, was fair with the crosses, and YOU HAD TO BE THERE jumped right out. Good Saturday puzzle.

GHarris 12:26 AM  

While @rex is wrapped up complaining about the East, it's hard to believe he fails to mention the NW which drove me to resort to electronic assistance. From whence the answer about creation? Was that a word known to others? And wtf is mods as an add on to auto repair? I know parts. I know labor. I know taxes. If I was asked to pay for mods I'd probably sue.

Anonymous 12:31 AM  

I won the lottery, now I'm a billionaire. Such is my LOTINLIFE.

jae 12:31 AM  

Mediumish. The west side was a tad easy than the east. Getting YOU HAD TO BE THERE with no crosses was helpful. A bit more sparkle than yesterday’s, liked it. Although “A, as in April” was not only a stretch but annoyingly obscure.

okanaganer 12:43 AM  

I hate to agree with Rex but, well, I do. Wanted EVEN KEEL for 13 D, and confidently tried to enter YOU SHOULDA BEEN THERE for 8 D, except I ran out of squares somewhere around BEEN TH!.

Agree ELDER LAW reminded me fondly of Better Call Saul. Bob Odenkirk was epic.

HAM FISTED for 34 D.

43 A "A, as in April" baffled me even after it was filled in. Oh, so Rex sez it's a US tax return item... kinda like a Canadian TD1? Yawn.

But finished on a high note: "do-or-die hockey situation" = EMPTY NET. The best thing in hockey, the team losing (usually by one goal) ups the ante by pulling their goalie in the last minute for the extra attacker. Ahh, hockey, I remember it well!

LtKije 12:44 AM  

Agreed 99% but PICARDY is fair game. It’s only “historical” because it was eliminated in ... 2016. Plus it’s the name of a territory in Diplomacy, the greatest modern board game.

egsforbreakfast 1:00 AM  

I am just utterly flabbergasted!!! How could 8D “it was even funnier in person” suggest to anyone in the whole GD universe YOU HAD TO BET HERE ? I want Shortz out and I want him out NOW!!!

What? You’re kidding. You mean it’s supposed to be BE THERE?

Never mind.................

mathgent 1:43 AM  

Hard for me. Thirteen mysteries (entries I guessed from the crosses). Not quite 20% of the 70 entries. Once a puzzle hits 20%, I’m in DNF territory.

I don’t watch The Simpsons but I remembered DISCOSTU from previous puzzles. That saved me in the NW.

I didn’t know CALF to be a piece of ice. Chopping off pieces of a glacier seems to be called “calving,” so a chunk is a CALF?

I also looked up SEACHANGE post solve. It comes from Shakespeare.

I’m hoping that someone will explain MODS in body shops.

Junk-free, plenty crunchy, I learned some things, good sparkle, a clean solve. Gotta love it.

Mr. Alarm 2:26 AM  

Thanks for explaining that stupid “A, as in April?” clue. Yuk. At least say “lead in to A, as in April?”.

chefwen 3:01 AM  

First thing I slapped down was YOU HAD TO BE THERE, opened up the whole puzzle which I thought was quite easy until I ran into 15A. Not remembering DISCO STU didn’t help matters. Never watched the Simpsons so the characters aren’t imbedded in my brain.

@Nancy - I absolutely adored your and Wills LA Times puzzle today. Imaginative and very clever. I’m looking forward to your upcoming ones.

syracusesolver 3:12 AM  

@Nancy, terrific puzzle yesterday, smooth as oleo, a real cubic zirconia! Thanks.

And thanks to all who recommended Tate's; I’m already trying hard not to get addicted.

JD 4:00 AM  

I look back now and see Ex Nihilo above Disco Stu, Mahler above Groove, and Madonna above Vampire Bat, and wonder why I hated this so much as I waded through it.

Oh yes, there it is. Lot In Life,Hot Mail, Schedule, Empty Net, and Even Tenor.

goldbug 5:31 AM  

All I have to add is that today I realised just how many great tennis players in the mid-70s had four-letter names. Had BORG at first, but he only won Wimbledon for the first time in '76 which caused me to do a ONE-EIGHTY on my initial answer for (33D: Complete shift). Then had Billie Jean KING, who *was* the 1975 Wimbledon winner. Oh. But you assumed we would think of the 1975 Wimbledon Men's Singles winner first. I see.

ASHE didn't help much anyway. Here in the UK we say "cack-handed" or "ham-fisted" but never "HAM HANDED" so that still took a while. And though I got SCHEDULE quite easily from the crosses it was utterly meaningless to me as an answer to (43A: A, in April) until I read this post.

Ashamed to say I have never heard the term EX NIHILO, but rather pleased with myself that I worked it out based only on ILO and my own minimal knowledge of Latin.

Lou 6:22 AM  

One piece of trivia I've always known was that the voice of Mr. Ed was Rocky Lane - never ever heard of him referred to as Allan. So, that had me stuck for quite a while.

BarbieBarbie 6:30 AM  


I was mystified by SCHEDULE and had to come here for an explanation. Thanks @Rex. Weirder still: that’s the clue the constructor thanked the editorial staff for.

Enjoyable, pretty fast Saturday. Thanks!

ChuckD 6:40 AM  

This one had an AGE GAP that didn’t click for me. Tough and well constructed - but not so pleasant. Had Creatio EX NIHILO drilled into me for four years of catholic school Latin so that came easy. Dislike the term SEA CHANGE - especially used corporately with paradigm shift. YOU HAD TO BE THERE was nice and went it quickly so that gave me a toehold. The SE corner was so blah and depressing - RAIN DATE, ELDER LAW - has to be something more uplifting than that. Didn’t have an issue with the HOTMAIL clue although some may claim some interim apps in there.

@ Nancy - your LAT offering yesterday was highly enjoyable.

Lewis 6:45 AM  

@rex -- This from "You can think of kismet as your lot in life, or your fate."

This puzzle, for me, was Crunch City, just what I want on Saturday, a tall tall mountain to climb.

As I look over the completed grid, there are only two answers that have never crossed my life, and so the crunch is in the cluing. There were brutal clues (for MAINSTAY, VAMPIRE BAT, AGE GAP), cute clues (for TEA and WET) and wicked clever clues (for MT ETNA and SCHEDULE), spread among the vague and misdirecting clues. And -- very memorable -- a new, never ever used clue for ARIA [Solilopuy relative]. Mind you, this answer has appeared in the NYT now 1,183 times, and this is the first relating it to a soliloquy. Big bravo on that, gents.

YOU HAD TO BE THERE was my first lifeline, and others came just when it felt like all hope was lost, providing the Saturday drama I long for. John and Michael, thank you for just what I look for on Saturday, and may there be many re-creations from your collaborations ahead!

TTrimble 7:09 AM  

I agree with Rex today. There was a certain amount of awkwardness in the puzzle. I was a little stymied at the end, in the SW, because I couldn't quite remember the sailors' warning ("red sea?" "red sun?" "red clouds?") and then finally RED SKY... oh duh, of course. I kept wanting it to be International Space Museum, but okay, it's International SPY museum. I didn't know about that. And SWAK? I can only guess "Sealed With A Kiss". Is that a thing, SWAK?

MODS? Can't say I'd heard of that. EX NIHILO, sure, it just means "out of nothing". As Latin phrases go, it's reasonably common. Speaking of things like that, I kept thinking "Eris tu" (there's that song from the 70's, but that's apparently "Eres tu"), so my memory failed me.

Other than that, I think Rex covered a lot of bases. Must agree that "plie" as DIP is pretty ridiculous. A plie is a knee bend. Come on. And ODELET? 'Kay..... I'll be happy to take Rex's word for that one.

All in all I had to bounce around a lot before it came together. Even so, a decent time posted. When seen against my historical average, that is.

Anonymous 7:10 AM  

I think MODS at body shop may refer to the human body, (tattoos, piercings etc)

Hungry Mother 7:15 AM  

Gotta love a Saturday morning with a W in the NYT puzzle. Nice challenge with some excellent wordplay.

Anonymous 7:15 AM  

I liked this puzzle more than Rex did, perhaps because, like him, I gravitate toward those I can solve readily, and for me this was easy for a Saturday. NE was slow, since for some reason Mahler didn't come to mind, and I was working on NETMAIL for 11D. For some reason I thought 32D, ATVS, was a misdirection for ATMS, and I was trying to get 40A as mammoth-whatever, trying to imagine something larger than a bat. As for 39A, FOB, I last read the O'Henry story some 60 years ago, and am amazed that the brain can somehow retain a cell, never used, for more than a half century. I could hope that that means dementia is not kicking in--but from the little that I've read this sort of "retention" is irrelevant to problems of this sort.

Nancy, very good puzzle yesterday--should it be ranked "Wednesday-level" by NYT standards? Thanks also to JC66 for providing the link.

Anon. i.e. Poggius

Joaquin 7:21 AM  

@GHarris and @Mathgent - "Mods" at a body shop are changes (modifications) one makes to his car to improve performance or looks. Also, a car that has been lifted, has a loud exhaust, etc. is said to be "modded".

amyyanni 7:38 AM  

LOT IN LIFE reminded me of a Donovan song, "Lalena" as a lyric is 'That's your lot in life Lalena, can't blame ya...' slow, sad flute accompaniment.
Maybe b/c my bday is Tax Day, Schedule A wasn't too hard. My Waterloo was DECA, CALF, ERI & PICARDY. Need to play Diplomacy, is it still around?
But for that spot, this was a fine Saturday. Hope you have one (fine day).

pabloinnh 7:41 AM  

Well, we can all check the "the NYT x-word has to be better than this" on our Grumpy Rex cards, along with "skews old" and "never knew that" and so on.

I liked this one a lot, probably because I wrote in EXHIHILO instantly, which I remembered form philosophy as one of those proofs-of-the-existence-of-God arguments (nothing comes form nothing). Ditto on YOUHADTOBETHERE, which gave valuable toeholds to other sections. I knew CALF as referenced and that made me feel smart. Thumbs down on EVENTENOR, says this tenor. And I had just seen that piece of trivia about MADONNA somewhere, which surprised me then and surprised me again this morning.

In short, a nice mix of wheelhouse stuff and answers that brought a smile when I filled them in. Nice job, John and Michael, and thanks for the fn.

Conrad 7:42 AM  

I love @chefwen's Uncle Google, but any Saturday when I don't need him is a good Saturday for me.

Had wAgnER for the composer and was wondering if there was a WGM casino that I'd never heard of, but HOTMAIL fixed that right up.

Didn't get the "A as in SCHEDULE A" until I read Rex.

Sometimes I use the Rebus key in a non-rebus puzzle when I have more than one candidate for a particular square. Had bf el ro ge before CALF.

@mathgent: MOD is short for MODification, like when you take your car to the body shop not to get a dent fixed but to add a rear spoiler, or fancy lighting or some such.

QuasiMojo 8:10 AM  

AmyYanni beat me to it.

"When the sun goes to bed
That's the time you raise your head
That's your lot in life, Lalena
Can't blame ya

I love the Jane Olivor version.

Thank God for Mahler who gave me a toehold.

Fun Saturday. "Discostu" sounds like some Italian expletive.

The maybe in the ANTS clue was apt. Most ants eat grease or sugar. I am not sure but I doubt they would eat scraps of kale. And PET added to dogs seemed redundant. Or unnecessary.

Loved the vampire bat clue. Try saying that ten times real fast.

Chim cham 8:25 AM  

Lol. That read like Gilda Radner as the old lady on Weekend Update. President Carter wants to make Puerto Rico a steak?!
.... Never mind.

Pamela 8:37 AM  

@syracuse- Good luck with that!

A misery for me today, even though YOUHADTOBETHERE filled in early, knew FOB, eventually recognized REDSKY, PICARDY. I had MED sch for the Langone student, don’t get how the NYU part works. Yes, I know it’s the school, but you wouldn’t say, I go to Med NYU, would you? DISCO STU was completely unknown to me as I haven’t watched the Simpsons since forever, and don’t even remember it from puzzles. And Plates in Italy? SCHEDULE A? Taxes?! Really! As others have said already, diabolical clueing didn’t help with things I should know, so today was not fun.

mmorgan 8:37 AM  

Liked it more than Rex. As usual.

@egsforbreakfast: BET HERE. Hehehehehehe.

I love Better Call Saul and I really really love Kismet the musical. I grew up hearing it 1000 times, saw it in Boston with Alfred Drake in the 60s and got to perform in it about 20 years ago. Dumbish story, but oh, the music....

Carola 8:39 AM  

Medium for me and fun to solve. I'd like to say that MAHLER + EX NIHILO put me right in the GROOVE to glide effortlessly to the bottom. But then there came DERAILED, which is what happened to me in the "floe" + "pas" area. It took a bit for me to right myself and end up in the EMPTY NET. Loved the VAMPIRE BAT and even enjoyed the reminder of SCHEDULE (A), my dad having been a revenue agent for the IRS. I also liked WANDS crossing HAM-HANDED, which is an undesirable trait at wizardry school.

Help from previous puzzles: DISCO STU and the recent SEA CHANGE. Another do-over: Graf before ASHE. "What the heck?" moments: LOTI?L...

9:21 AM  

I know mods from the RV world, where it’s very common. We make lots of modifications to our rigs. Have not heard it in re: cars.

Z 9:22 AM  

Feeling smug since this was one of the easiest Saturdays ever. It was so easy that I presumed it was a PPP Wheelhouse thing, but no. PPP came in a not excessive 20 out of 70. MAHLER, EX NIHILO and 8D all being gimmes certainly helped. A Saturday with one (very minor) writeover (I had put in an S based on the clue so had to waste at least two nanoseconds fixing DEBs to DEBT) is extremely rare.

Agree with Rex in the opposing nature of kismet and LOT IN LIFE. Also agree with him on the stretching going on with the SCHEDULE clue. I did figure it out and asked “Why?” Otherwise, I thought the puzzle was mostly fine, although a tad too easy for a Saturday. Oh, ODELET is definitely a WTF, although in this case the W represents “Why” not “What.” Is it ODE LET or O DE LET?

I was walking the dogs last night and passed by the home of our 93 year-old trivia teammate and caught the distinct aroma of recently imbibed THC. Nah, it had to be the much younger neighbors across the street. Right?

burtonkd 9:22 AM  

MODS refers to modifications. Aftermarket parts to make your car more exciting. A pickup truck that is 4 feet off the ground. A sports car 2 inches from the ground, or with spinning wheels (Sprewells). Also, they can be high performance parts under the hood. If you play racing video games, you can win MODS to help you gain an advantage.

KISMET sample sentence when you google is "What chance did I have against Kismet". Fate is the first definition and Doom is the third, so while I also associate it with positive fate, clue absolutely legitimate.

Lots of good tricky stuff here. I got stuck in NW, took a lot to sort it out.

Music trivia: if you take a piece in a minor key, then at the final chord, raise the third to change it to the major to make it suddenly happy, you've just used a PICARDY third. It used to be all the rage sometime before Mr. Ed (16th Cent.).

My Rex radar told me to watch out for PETDOGS as green paint and a PC rant against JK Rowlings. I guess the use of doubled clues and Geritol ones distracted him.

I didn't remember ODELET, but it is descernible.

9:24 AM  

I just explained this above, but shall do so again. In the RV world, we make tons of modifications to our rigs. Never heard of making mods to cars, though.

Beth 9:31 AM  

Haha thanks for the giggle 🤭

kenji 9:31 AM  

Since it's been asked...we're about to pull the trigger on an RV for full-timing and follow Facebook groups for the make and model of interest. One group is dedicated to "mods," which are ways people are MODifying existing components, systems, etc. on their rigs. I'm not into cars but imagine if one were, one might MOD the tailpipe, suspension, paint job, lights, etc. and that body shops do some or all of that work.

Beth 9:37 AM  

Loved it! Rex is crabby as per ushe although he does make a point on the narrowness of LOTINLIFE vis a vis the clue. VAMPIREBAT made me smile as big as any crossword answer ever has. Thank you for the new vocabulary word, hematophage. Really enjoyed this one!!

Joe Dipinto 9:47 AM  

Wow, two people have already cited this total bummer from 1968. Not to worry – here's a more upbeat enjoinder from 1985.

"Happy Together" by the Turtles has my favorite Picardy third ending. (See: @burtonkd 9:22)

kenji 9:47 AM  

sorry for the redundancy; seems several of us were typing at the same time (I ham-handedly).

mrnovember 9:49 AM  

I hadn’t thought of Donovan’s song in ages but it is beautiful. Never heard of Ms. Oliver so had to look her up. Glad I did. Her version is wonderful.

Nancy 9:50 AM  

yHC didn't seem quite right to me, but ODELEy seemed like it might be. I make no apology for not knowing my marijuana ingredients, but I should know my poetic forms. But I didn't.

Is ODELET any relation to a novelette?

Anyway, a DNF that doesn't make me especially unhappy -- especially when I came so close to leaving most of the SE undone. Only when I changed PICARDi to PICARDY could I finally see EMPTY NET. Now, I don't know my hockey terms since I don't watch hockey (too little scoring and I can never see the puck) but I deduced that EMPTY NET must mean that your goalie is somewhere else and not inside the NET where he should be. And I know it's a Very Bad Thing in hockey to not have your goalie guarding the net.

PADS before MODS for the body-shop add-ons (23A). As someone who doesn't drive, I've happily never had to deal with auto mechanics, but I've heard it said that they pad their bills all the time and repair all sorts of things that didn't need to be repaired in the first place.

A detached piece of ice is called a CALF? Really?

Enjoyed this puzzle. It had enough trickiness to keep it interesting.

And thank you, everyone, for your very nice comments today and yesterday about Will's and my LAT puzzle.

kenji 9:50 AM  

much of which was adapted from works of Alexander Borodin, right?

Petsounds 9:54 AM  

@TTrimble: From 1962: And yes, when teens were separated from their sweethearts in the summer, we signed our letters and post cards to each other SWAK. Simpler times, my friend. Also, cornier.

What I can't get over in this puzzle is DIP for "plie." As Rex pointed out, the two moves are nothing alike, not even close. I mean, it's just WRONG. This is the kind of thing that makes me want Will Shortz gone. SCHEDULE also annoying; unless you're a CPA or look forward every year to doing your own taxes (in which case, Who are you???), how would you know about Schedule A? That one gave me only relief, no joy or AHA!, when the crosses gave it up. PETDOGS yes, ANTS no.

OTOH, a lot to like here, including YOUHADTOBETHERE, which I got instantly, with only two crosses, and really helped me solve this thing. VAMPIREBAT, REDSKY, SEACHANGE. All lovely. I entered GLOVE for 18A, before realizing it was wrong and the constructors had actually hinted that I shouldn't use that answer by cluing with "good thing to have on hand," not hands. Nice.

Brainpan 9:58 AM  

Maybe, MAYBE, and this is probably too generous, this is a quasi-themer where "You had to be there" *accounts* (see what I did there? more subtle financial humor) for some of them not landing as they should. Because that's what happened when you tell a story and you had to be there. And the repetitions maybe - multiple situations where you had to be there to get the right answer. Maybe?

Whatsername 10:05 AM  

Sheesh! This was brutal in places but had some redeeming qualities too, for sure. The NW was like a root canal and nearly impossible without googling, especially since I was not a Simpsons fan. Didn’t help that I had MAINLINE at 1A and MAGS in place of MODS. Then the SW was about as bad because I didn’t know PICARDY, had ERE at 44A crossing REDHOT at 45D, and where on earth did anyone come up with that clue for CALF?? Bleh. SCHEDULE was easy with the crosses, but tax preparation never entered my mind. “A, in April” might have suggested that, but to me the “as in” implies something to do with pronunciation. I did like the clue for SUBARUS, had me thinking along the lines of arborist but nothing fit.

The saving grace of course was YOUHADTOBETHERE which was the star of the show and the perfect clue. Overall it was tough but just about the right pace for a Saturday workout. And that’s my BOTTOMLINE for today.

Nancy 10:07 AM  
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Petsounds 10:11 AM  
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Teedmn 10:15 AM  

THC and SET set me up for YOU HAD TO BE THERE. I first imagined "should have been THERE" and a couple of other iterations before DISCO STU nailed it in.

Only the SE gave me pause today, and a DNF - I had ERe Tu, and was wondering why PeCARDY looked not at all familiar. PICARDY at least I've seen before.

From Beck's album SEA CHANGE.

Heard HAM-HANDED on TV just a day or so, and was able to explain it to my husband so that went straight in off of HA.

So you're never wrong in the desert because you're never all WET?

I smiled when EMPTY NET filled in. All of those Gopher hockey games I went to in college and I couldn't remember a hockey term that started with EM. When you pull the goalie to try to score, it's definitely do-or-die.

Thanks, JG and MH.

And I agree with everyone who liked @Nancy's and Will Nediger's LAX puzzle yesterday. Some great cluing and a fun theme.

bauskern 10:17 AM  

Day 3 of skipping Rex's critiques, but guessing he liked it, as this was about as easy a Saturday as I've seen in a long time, and the puzzle didn't skew "male," whatever that means. 8D fell for me immediately, so that always gives a boost of confidence. SCHEDULE was brilliant. And any puzzle that references Arthur ASHE is a winner. Even if you don't follow tennis, go out and get a copy of John McPhee's "Levels of the Game," perhaps the best book ever written about a tennis match, and you'll learn a lot about Ashe's upbringing. A shame that someone recently desecrated his statute.

jberg 10:20 AM  

Sure KISMET can be negative! When you lose the girl of your dreams you can say “Well I guess it was kismet.” Don’t know about you sometimes, Rex.

OTOH YOU HAD TO BE THERE means ONLY. Funny in person, not even funnier. I got it, and it was a big help, but not quite right.

I will say that between EX NIHILO and hematophage this could be tough for those not up on their classical languages.

I have learned “errs Yu” from crosswords, but what’s ERI TU? I’m not even sure what language it is.

I disagree with Rex about the WANDS clue—specifying Harry Potter would make it too easy for a Saturday.

Anonymous 10:21 AM  

An ice CALF is not a thing. Icebergs can "calve" as a verb. That's it.

GILL I. 10:29 AM  

Well...YIKES. Let me add a geez a few blimey's add some heavens to betsy and mix it with heavens! This one was mixed martial arts. A little grappling, some striking and full-contact body wrestling.
I'll start with me never saying NICE ONE if I want to be sarcastic. My go to is: SO SUE ME. Yep...That just sat there staring at me for a puppy walk time. I'm so glad my kids watched "The Simpsons" - as did my husband - because I remembered DISCO STU. That C in the middle gave me NICE..Ooh and look, SUED crossed it. I'm glad my SUE wasn't for naught.
This was definitely a get up and move around puzzle. Fits and starts. Mind blanking. You can do this. favorite MAHLER - all is not lost. A little kitten who has lost his MITTEN....I'm beginning to GROOVE.
YOU HAD TO BE THERE. I wanted to light up a cig. I'm on fire. Let out a little eek with VAMPIRE BAT and things kept getting better. Major halt when I reached the southeast terminus. My detached piece of ice was floe then burg then I kept thinking I wanted a cocktail. Nope. Damn it. I have to call up Mr Googs and ask him. CALF? If you insist.. So what is a historic region of northern France? Hmmmm. I've been throughout all of France . All I could think of was Normandy. Oh have that little CALF cheat in there so it's something with an A in it. Ah, yes..... PICARDY . Remembering Amiens and the floating gardens on its canal. When a puzzle has my mind wandering, I'm in delightedness.
So I'm getting to the end and I'm happy until I reach RAIN DATE. I wasn't sure about that dude who voiced Mr Ed so that 49D was a little empty spot. I've heard of rain check but the date part took some time. I just put that little CALF in there and crossed fingers. I guess it worked.
RED SKY in the morning sailors warning. Deeeelightfuly hard but worth the fight.

Señorita @Nancy. Tu rompecabezas de ayer era magnifico.. En hora buena, chiquita. Fue un placer.

RooMonster 10:34 AM  

Hey All !
DNF in that FOB PERT DEBT ERI area. Had ERe, which if I figured everything else out, would've stayed as my one-letter DNF regardless. But that EVEN TENOR seems tinny to my ears, and the ole brain refused to acknowledge it as correct. Plus not knowing FOB as a Magi gift (really wanted Fig), not knowing PICARDY (had _eCARDY, looking for an L, as French names seem to start with LE a lot), which had me wanting lEwd for PERT. So in desperation, ended up with EVENTENew (maybe another Frenchy EVENTE New?), Fee, DEed, lEwd, leCARDY. Oof.

But a decent SatPuz. I sure would've like to have thrown in DISCOSTU right away, would've helped in that NW corner, but not a big Simpsons fan. I liked it at first, but once South Park came out, it blew them out of the water.

Had beyONce for MADONNA for quite a while. "Confirmed" by the center 15 and MTETNA. It took SUBARUS to get me to the correct musician. Agree with the CALF huh?-ers. FLOE or BERG. End. Also, CLAM took a while to click as another synonym for money like Smacker is. C-note floating in my head, but too long.

AXIS in and out about three times. LaTINLIFE first for LOTINLIFE, Har!

prEnuP-AGEGAP, think that's it for other writeovers.

Three F's

Nancy 10:34 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Petsounds 10:49 AM  

@Nancy. Oops! Done. Apologies.

Carola 10:54 AM  

@jberg 10:20 - By the time this posts, there will probably be multiple other answers, but "Eri tu" (Italian: "It was you") is a terrific aria from Verdi's A Masked Ball, accusatory, sorrowful, and tender all at once. (And - in connection with today's puzzle and the beginning of your comment - not "It was kismet.")

Frantic Sloth 10:59 AM  

Yikes! Take a nanosecond off from the blog and 💥BAM!💥 you find yourself in a crater of comments that you have to burrow your way through to find the gem that is Nancy & Will's crossword!
Thanks to @Mohair for the mention and @JC66 for the link! What immense fun that was! 👏👍 And so, thanks and kudos to @Nancy(WA) and Will! Exclamation points all around and on the house‼️
(Also, so lovely to find a C.S. anonymous who had a problem with the whole idea of *gasp!* a tangent-spy lurking among the NYTXW-only comments. Not. And you can suss out the meaning of "C.S." for yourselves.)

On to today now, please...

ODELET. Flush that one right down the commODELET. Otherwise, just read @Rex and about 90% (scientifically calculated so shut up) of the comments here.

That is all.


Aunt Hattie 11:08 AM  

Great WW I song--Roses are Shining in Picardy

Anonymous 11:10 AM  

The clue should have added (as in the “old days”): Latin.

Anonymous 11:17 AM  

Body shop is for repairs. Custom shop is for mods.

mathgent 11:22 AM  

I did four years of Latin at a Jesuit high school and never heard EXNIHILO. I knew “nihil” was a Latin word and first guessed ABNIHILO.

Thanks BarbieBarbie and Joaquin for MODS.

BTW, if Joaquin is really your name, we kinda share it. When my parents brought me to the Spanish priest to be baptized, he couldn’t put my name, Jack, on the baptismal certificate. Not a saint’s name. So, in the eyes of God, I am Joaquin.

I wish we wouldn’t comment so much about Rex’s character flaws and the inanities he writes.

What? 11:25 AM  

Tough for me but I persevered and finished without visiting Mr. Google. Perfect Saturday. Took my mind off of the virus for awhile. Actually, thank goodness we have the virus to worry about to keep us from thinking about politics.

Canon Chasuble 11:32 AM  

Three truly bizarre clues today, plié, odelet and schedule for certain. And one absolutely brilliant clue for Mt. Etna.

Anonymous 11:33 AM  

Compared to the New Yorker cluing, the NY times is just boring and stupid. I loved Arthur Ashe but he is in every NYT crossword puzzle.

Michael Page 11:43 AM  

Dip for plié isn’t the worst of it. You just can’t have anchor for mainstay, they are metaphors for two very specific and very different parts of a sailboat. I wish you luck trying to hold up your mast with an anchor or keeping your boat from drifting aground with the mainstay.
Otherwise pleasurable, although I was stuck firmly aground at the start because AB INITIO fits nicely in place of EX NIHILO.

Birchbark 11:50 AM  

By devilish policy art thou grown great,
And, like ambitious Sylla, over-gorged
With gobbets of thy mother's bleeding heart.
By thee Anjou and Maine were sold to France,
The false revolting Normans through thee
Disdain to call us lord, and PICARDY
Hath slain their governors, surprised our forts,
And sent the ragged soldiers wounded home.

-- Shakespeare, Henry VI, pt. 2, Act IV, scene 2.

That and the final episode of Star Trek TNG, where Capt. PICARD as an old man is working in the vineyard of his ancestral French farm.

@Nancy (9:50) -- NICE ONE re ODELET. In fact, NICE ONE is an ODELET.

@TeedMN (10:15) -- Further to ODELET, I thought @Rex might post something from Beck's "Odelay." I do like SEA CHANGE better -- good music to grill by.

@Z (9:22) -- Nice to see you're a MAHLER fan. Under certain looming weather conditions, the 8th Symphony (a/k/a "Symphony of a Thousand") is also good grilling music.

ghthree 11:57 AM  

Confidently wrote in AB INITIO at 15 Across and MOZART at 9 Across. Both stayed in far too long. Got 8 Down with only three crosses, one of which was the erroneous 15 Across. That helped nail down the error further. Jane and I both solved this from the bottom up.
We spent about half our time on the fist three lines, after everything else was done. Reluctantly erasing AB INITIO immediately allowed EX NIHILO. Never heard of it, but it's a direct translation. Jane suggested RENO for 14 Down, and that gave me MAHLER on the basis of language alone. After that, if was just mop-up work. To finish Friday puzzle before lunch is always a joy.
We agree Rex is right about PLIE vs. DIP.

RPCV Cameroon 12:03 PM  

Last year visited the now closed (permanently) Newseum. Learned that 20% of Americans can name all 5 Simpsons but only 3% can name the 5 freedoms in the First Amendment (full disclosure I got 4)

Joe Welling 12:07 PM  

And although the April clue is less appropriate this year, it's fitting that it's in a July puzzle--but a few days late.

Rick Walker 12:21 PM  

I agree. I i think Shortz needs to be more critical. Save week progresses, I have Lee's trouble either the answers as the bullshit clues to make the puzzles harder. I don't care that they are hard, like A for April, but when they lie to be cute or difficult. Like who ever says tis just a scratch? That bullshit needs to stop. He just seems too nice about it all.

Anonymous 12:21 PM  

y'all better stop prop-ing @Nancy for her puzzle, hiding same in a foreign language isn't a successful disguise. y'all will bring down the wrath, or is it wraith?, of a different mouse. :)

Anonymous 12:21 PM  

Luckily for us The Supremes know the first freedom. Big, and correctly-adjudicated - win for the Sisters of Mercy!!!!

JeffE 12:25 PM  

"My good will got depleted fast". Hahaha. Good one

Anonymous 12:26 PM  

Wait?! Abe isn’t a Simpson? Hmm, so odd, because his name is Abraham Simpson. That makes, at least, 6 Simpsons.Thankfully, I don’t have to petition the government to close the insipid Newseum. The public couldn’t stay away fast or far enough. It’s closed. Permanently.

TJS 12:33 PM  

@Michael Page, The clue is obviously trying to send us in the nautical direction, but mainstay and anchor in the context of a team sport, like bowling for instance, where the mainstay (most reliable) member of the team is your "anchor man".

@Nancy, really enjoyed your L.A. Times collaborative effort. Better than anything we have been seeing around here lately. And thanks to all who sent us there.

OffTheGrid 12:33 PM  

I agree with many of the nits voiced by @Rex and others but I still enjoyed digging this out. I finally did a reveal for 54A after floe and berg failed. CALF is real. I just didn't know. I double faulted with Borg and Graf but finally got past those snarls. I run a small used car business so that is my LOTINLIFE.

Anonymous 12:41 PM  

Isn't "red cents" kind of maybe a racist term? While it's used as a pun in this puzzle's case, it's believed that the term "red cents" was used to refer pennies when they had a Native American on them (pre-1909 when Lincoln took over). It is also believed that "red cents" comes from the fact that they're made of copper and therefore reddish.

egsforbreakfast 12:42 PM  

I need to get something off my chest that will be largely ignored and likely scorned by a few. But the use of Plié as a clue for dip is perfectly appropriate, particularly on a Saturday, where you wouldn’t appreciate a clue like “French ______ Sandwich “. Most Saturday solvers would understand that in performing a Plié, one would slightly dip down. This means, to me, that it is not a bad clue, and certainly not wrong, wrong, wrong, the way some would have. It. I see this frequently from Rex and from commenters who believe they have caught out the NYTXW editors in an error. This notion is incorrect at least 99.9% of the time. If a clue was “Product of 9 x 7”, and the answer was THIRTYONE, one would be justified in saying “wrong, wrong, wrong”.

jb129 12:59 PM  

I enjoyed this puzzle - more than the puzzles of the last few days. I struggled but enjoyed it a lot.

Joaquin @ 12:13 am (dunno, I was sleeping). Did you really say "DANDY?????

Crimson Devil 1:05 PM  

Chim Cham
Good to be reminded of the incomparable Gilda: her character you reference was Emily Littela, whom I have cited quite a few times in court.

Learned CALF.

SCHEDULE A mighty obscure.

Great to see reference to the real stable genius, Mr. Ed.

jberg 1:07 PM  

Back from our morning dogwalk and just read all the comments (up to @Joe Welling 12:07). I guess my thoughts on Saturday cluing differ from those of many others. IMO, clues like those for MAINSTAY and DIP that step away from the specific meanings of words are just the thing on a Saturday. So sure, the mainstay is not the anchor! But if you are the anchor of an organization, you are likely its mainstay as well. And the clue for 59D can be interpreted that the term in ballet might be called something else in ordinary life. Fair game, I think. For similar reasons I loved the clue for SCHEDULE. I bet this puzzle was submitted and accepted before the plague hit us.

I seem to have been the only one to have wasted megananoseconds thinking the body shop clue was tricky reference to the cosmetics company. I should have known better, since shop was not capitalized, but I was sold on the idea. But as many have pointed out, auto body shops certainly do install MODS. Remember the fashion a couple of decades ago to buy a Bentley grill for you Volkswagen Beetle?

@Nancy, wonderful puzzle yesterday, keep 'em coming! You may have noticed I dropped an L from Will Nediger's first name. That's to make up for the many times I put an extra L in his surname, making him Nedliger. I think it comes from overthinking "Bewilderingly" the name of his blog.

Btw, I like ODELEy -- I think it's a variety of yodeling.

For a fee, I can guarantee success in your academic career.

Even tenure?


How much do you charge?

An even tenner.

Seriously, though, where does that phrase come from. Why a TENOR? I used to hear it commonly, back in the last century, but hesitated today because it doesn't make much sense. I guess it's one of those words that have multiple meanings. Come to think of it, I think I've also heard "the TENOR of Rex's comments was on the negative side."

@Carola, thanks for explaining the ARIA title.

Banya 1:19 PM  

I hated the A as in April? clue and still don't like it after it was explained to me by Rex. I had the __LF of CALF and thought CALF because that was the only word I could think of that ended in an LF and still thought, nah - that's not what that means. Took me a while to convince myself that that was there. I still breezed thought a lot of the puzzle and for me, for Saturdays, that's not bad.

Hartley70 1:26 PM  

Ugh. This was ridiculously hard for me. The clues didn’t sync up with my knowledge base and I don’t have to remind some of you how I feel about any mention of BATs. Really, MADONNA? I can’t remember anything beyond “Like a Virgin”. Does anyone outside the industry know the voice behind Mr. Ed? An obscure lake in an unidentifiable state in a corner with German folk tales and songs? I could go on and on but I already did that for over an hour this morning. Time for a swim.

Masked and Anonymous 1:27 PM  

This SatPuz had m&e at VAMPIREBAT. Also had the Jaws of Themelessness, and several sparkly good Downs, includin: YOUHADTOBETHERE & SUBARUS [cuz U had to be there twice].

Stuff the puz helped teach M&A today: CALF of ice. SEACHANGE. PICARDY. ALLAN Lane.
Extra primo-sneaky clues: The ones for MTETNA, DEBT, and SCHEDULE.

staff weeject pick: ANT. Part of the neat "table scrappers" sub-theme. VAMPIREBATs & CALFs might go for some of them table scraps, also. Not so much CLAMs, tho. Nor MADONNA, of course.


Thanx for gangin up on us, Mr's. Guzzetta & Hawkins.

Masked & Anonymo4Us


Barbara S. 1:28 PM  

Although you can find that ice-related definition of CALF in various dictionaries, my husband, who's a glaciologist, says that nobody in the biz actually uses the word that way. Calving produces icebergs. So, technically correct but not in practical usage. However, crossword constructors, who aren't glaciologists, have no way of knowing this.

Malsdemare 1:28 PM  

I DNFed at the MID-DISCOSTU cross. I've never seen the Simpsons and cISCOSTU seemed reasonable.

My husband thanks everyone for the Tate's recommendation (And so does my dog who got in to the first bag we bought).

Nancy, I loved the puzzle! You and Will are a great team.

Frantic Sloth 1:57 PM  

Thanks, @egs 1242pm I thought it was me. Mostly because it usually is.

old timer 2:03 PM  

I got DISCOSTU and wondered, "What is a disCOSTu? I guess old Stu made no impression on me when I used to watch The Simpsons. And while SEACHANGE comes from Shakespeare, and the definition is entirely consistent with his original usage, I was thinking of Bordeaux wine, which tasted better after being shipped to India, and Madeira and some vintage port, which were deliberately provided by wine houses to be used as ballast, and put on the market only when they ended up in London. Indeed most Madeira wines would not be what they are without a process that replicates the old long sea voyages to India.

Thiz being a Saturday, I expected answers that are not literally true. I know a MAINSTAY is what holds a mainmast in place. But the meaning used in the clue is consistent with usage. I know BOTTOM LINE is a financial term sort of equivalent to "net profit", and doesn't exactly mean 'outcome". And I was wondering for a while what a Subarus could be.

But it is Saturday. Not supposed to be easy, and if anything this one was too easy. But in general there were some great clues, including the ones for RAINDATE and EMPTY NET. As well as that horrible A as in April one. I would not have been grateful for it, were I the constructor.

Old Actor 2:07 PM  

If you've ever done a plie'(and I have...many!) DIP is the first thing you think of.

Old Actor 2:13 PM  

I think "Tis but a scratch" is a line from Hamlet.

joannalan 2:26 PM  

I don’t think it has anything to do with schedule a. I think when you’re setting up a schedule, you use A for April, M for May and so on.

JPN 2:27 PM  

Nice that the constructor brought up the goodwill of Ken Langone (Langone Center/NYU). It wasn't that long ago that an announcement was made to NYU med students that hence forth, med school tuition at NYU would no longer be charged to students, courtesy of a generous donation from Mr. Langone and his wife.

DigitalDan 2:28 PM  

Rex,they're SUPPOSED to be hard. How else to make them hard than to put in things you don't know, but somebody does? I rail at absolutely every clue about a rapper or a rock band, since for some reason I know absolutely nothing about them. (I should have got MAHLER right away, though, and didn't.) I admit that whenever "erX tu" or "erYs tu" shows up, I can't remember which one has the "e" and which one has the "i," and who cares anyway? That's what cost me four minutes of poking around today, crossing PECARDY/PICARDY.

Masked and Anonymous 2:30 PM  


@RP: har. Thou soundethed dis-plie-sed, today. If U Google on "odelet meaning", first thing U get is:
"A little or short ode". However, U *will* be pleased to hear that Otto Correct tried to change odelet to omelet on m&e. Too bad they couldn'ta used OMELET in the puz. Is DAMONSY a word? [As in "29-D was kinda DAMONSY, yesterday".]

Forgot to mention that I admire the general look of DISCOSTU, in the puzgrid.

And congratz to @Nancy, on her collabbed LATPuz from yesterday. It had some real nice 'tude.


Kathy 2:58 PM  

I don’t know how I managed to finish today because there were SO many answers I didn’t know. I would say is a tribute to the constructor that it was possible to pick away at this puzzle using logic, patterns, bald-faced guesses and even Latin and come away with a win. It took me two hours and two sittings but it was enjoyable despite some of the murky answers.

Languished too long:
So sue me for NICEONE
med sch for NYUMED
prenup for AGEGAP

Couldn’t crack the SE (mainly because I stuck with floe, with berg as a distant backup) but finally made sense of it by trying LAW as a possible ending to the estate field and, presto, it all fell into place.

@Nancy, I posted last night after finishing your LAT puzzle close to midnight, then wondered “Why did I do that?” It certainly deserves a better timed mention today. What fun I had with your nonsensical wordplay! And the perfect revealer at the end that made go back to the drawing board...then laugh out loud when I realized what you had cooked up. Looking forward to more!

And Boo on the curmudgeons who objected to the plugs for a MAINSTAY blogger’s puzzle creation.

The Black Knight 3:16 PM  

'Tis but a scratch.

TTrimble 3:32 PM  

Am willing to revise my earlier dismissal of DIP. Of course doing a plie entails taking a DIP in the sense of a slight descent.

---[SB Alert]---

Ha! Got the QB. I didn't find it easy though. I think I needed the afternoon nap to deliver me the last word. Some of the words may be unfamiliar to the HOI POLLOI (note to mods: that's not a spoiler).

Anonymous 3:36 PM  

Rex's admission that "my good will got depleted fast" is helpful in understanding his tone. Note he never ever runs out of ill will.

Mickey C 3:41 PM  

I'm always a day behind, so I just now did Nancy's puzzle from yesterday's LA Times. Very cute theme, although I never heard of that movie. And now I know why I no longer see Rich Norris' byline on any NYT puzzles.

JC66 3:46 PM  

****SB ALERT****


FYI, I think it's OK to mention words that are unacceptable on the day we're posting as long as the comment doesn't give away acceptable ones.

floatingboy 3:49 PM  

Second-fastest Saturday ever! Lower 7's. Only very seldom do I beat King Rex's time (King King...heh). So when I do I have to gloat. Sorry. But HAM HANDED? Please. I'm only not mad at the dumb answers because crosses saved me in every instance today.

Z 3:57 PM  

Did someone say ODELay?

@birchbark - You're giving me too much credit. The actual thought process was "6 letter German composer?... three letter casino is probably MGM.. MAHLER seems Saturday likely, ARIA, HOTMAIL, yep."

@The Black Knight - Yep! Exactly what I thought of.

@joannolan - Creative but how do you deal with the whole January June July issue?

@Barbara S - I have seen "calving" fairly frequently in science oriented publications, so the idea that the resulting ice floe might be a CALF seemed pretty obvious. My question for your husband is why don't glaciologists use such a vivid word?

More on the origin of "red cents."

TTrimble 4:18 PM  

@JC 66

I know; it's just that I've had trouble recently, even when I'd done nothing wrong, and so I'm not taking any chances.

OffTheGrid 4:27 PM  

Anonymous 12:41. You are obviously trolling. The red refers to being "in the red". You know, in DEBT.

Joe Bleaux 4:54 PM  

This puzzle beat me up pretty good, but I (finally) finished with no help and no errors. And having already struggled with the SB, I was worn out. (Speaking of the SB, all but 10 of the 35 words it took me to get the QB with 99 points were four-letter one-pointers. Whew,)

@Nancy — Nice teamwork and theme work. As it happened, I solved your puzzle first thing yesterday, excited because I “knew” the co-constructor. Please accept another congrat.

Barbara S. 4:54 PM  

A few short(ish) observations:

For ANT, I filled in "cat" immediately. My feline housemate daily declares his love for table scraps in ringing tones.

I loved ODELET: an ode you can cuddle!

Early in the solve, I entered "in sync" for GROOVE (working rhythm), because if two things are in sync, they have established a rhythm that works! (It seemed logical at the time.)

I remembered FOB because recently somebody (@Joe Dipinto?) gave a cogent analysis of "The Gift of the Magi," saying he thought Della made the cannier sacrifice in that her hair would grow back, while Jim's watch was gone for good. That was a useful reminder of the gifts just in time for this puzzle. Thanks!

@Z (3:57) Without polling a representative sample of glaciologists, I can't really answer your question, but my husband says that when a piece of the Antarctic ice sheet larger than Mount Everest breaks off, the image of a calf doesn't spring readily to mind. Or think about the north Atlantic: did the Titanic run into a calf?

****SB ALERT****
All I can say about today is...KILLER BEE!

Z 5:34 PM  

@Barbara S - Hmmm... a baby cow ain’t exactly dainty either. Or a hippopotamus calf. Or a blue whale calf. Giving birth to something uncomfortably large seems the very essence of “calving,” so I still like.

Anonymoose 5:50 PM  

@Joe Bleaux. Hope this doesn't ruin you day but according to NYT Spelling Bee Answers and Analysis, 99 is Genius. QB is 142 with 41 words.

Nick 6:02 PM  

11 Down is simply incorrect. Microsoft Outlook existed as an email application for years before Hotmail. The *online* version of Outlook came after, but the clue says "Outlook," not "".

Mark 6:21 PM  

Also, Outlook actually preceded Hotmail by many years.

Anoa Bob 6:31 PM  

I found nothing SHODDY about this puzzle. Putting EX NIHILO over DISCO STU is priceless. I remember NIHILism as an existential philosophy concept that ultimately life is meaningless. NIHIL comes from the Latin for "nothing". So we go from that heavy scene straight to one of lighthearted comedy with DISCO STU. NICE ONE.

This old sailor loved seeing SEA CHANGE. For early seafarers a SEA CHANGE known as the "swell" would be the first sign of approaching bad weather, even before the appearance of storm clouds on the horizon. In other words, it was an early harbinger of bad times to come. I thinking that's how the Bard used it.

My overall impression was that it was densely packed with interesting words. Bravo! Going from 43 black squares yesterday to 34 today accounts for some of that. Another factor is the restrained use of the letter S. A quick count shows a frequency just under 6%, which is the frequency of S in the wild. Hardly a plural of convenience (POC) to be found. A hearty meal with minimal non-nutritional filler.

Newboy 6:43 PM  

Late to the party, but still fun—not perfect as Rex would like, but certainly worth doing on a sunny afternoon. And thanks @Chefwen (and others) for reference to @Nancy’s Friday LA bundle of joy. But Nancy, when do you sleep? Posting at 3 a.m. My view of the Salem witch trials is, of course, forever changed.

On today’s NYT grid I’m with @jberg (1:07) on enjoying Saturday cluing that takes a bit of twisting. All evening newscasts rely on their ANCHORS as the MAIN STAY of the broadcast team. Taking clues literally is peachy on early week efforts, but Wednesday on.....Naw!

kitshef 9:11 PM  

Plenty of nice stuff in today's puzzle, but a Saturday needs more bite to excite me. This was more like Friday, part II.

Eniale 11:17 PM  

@Rick walker: Mercutio says "tis but a scratch" when he's dying after the duel with Tybalt.

AlsoBrien 11:54 AM  

Said no one ever

Greg 4:37 PM  

Late to comment here, as I'm running a backlog on solving. As a professional singer, I need to weigh in on the ALTO clue. Toni Braxton and Mahalia Jackson are "contraltos", not "altos". "Alto" is a term pretty much reserved for choral singing, and refers to the second-highest line of music, below the "sopranos". In classical singing, a woman with a vocal range lower than soprano is referred to either as a "mezzo-soprano", or if she has an even lower range, then again she is referred to as a "contralto".

Anonymous 10:27 PM  

Had ___ON__ for 38A and slammed in Beyonce which probably would have thrown me off more if the middle and mid-to-upper right weren't bad. A very Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde puzzle. Got through the left side and bottom right (with the exception of 43A where I had SCHED_LE, knew it had to be schedule and had no idea how that could possibly be right) and then completely stalled out.

Agree with Rex, just some deranged cluing. Not clever--just imprecise for the sake of being cutesy.

spacecraft 10:16 AM  

Fine by me. The usual Saturday crunch, but helped along tremendously with long gimmes YOUHADTOBETHERE and VAMPIREBAT. I was really puzzled by that "A, as in April?" clue, and could scarcely believe it when crosses yielded SCHEDULE. A few moments of thought gave me the connection, which is thinner than the ice on a hot spring lake. Oh well, it IS a "puzzle."

I don't mind the double-up clues; it does add a bit of spice. And since MADONNA is Billboard's all-time #1 (I would never have suspected that), she has earned DOD status. Birdie.

thefogman 11:31 AM  

After I wrote in MGM for 9D I was sure 9A had to be Mozart. Consequently I was stalled in the NE corner so I Googled just to confirm. Alas, MAHLER not Mozart. DNF for me.

Burma Shave 2:36 PM  


What MADONNA WEARs? 'TIS fine,
EVEN IN the RAIN and all WET.
and a PERT well-FRONTED SET.


leftcoaster 3:52 PM  

Most vexing answers: ODELET, SCHEDULE DISCOSTU. Also troubled with short ones: MED, MODS, FOB, AMA. And here's another short one: DNF

Diana, LIW 4:15 PM  

I got pretty close to completing it all correctly. Not bad considering my first few glances with little to show.

Sometimes I had the answer but wasn't sure why.

Diana, LIW

rondo 4:20 PM  

NW finished in record time due to gimmes DISCOSTU and YOUHADTOBETHERE. That long central gimmeopened up the NE and SW. Kinda suck SE: had to go for a haircut. Came home and zipped to the end. ONE write-over with ERe before ERI.
Even with some WERA, MADONNA gets a yeah baby. Easy-MED. puz.

Anonymous 9:41 PM  

Not easy, Not good, Not fun.

A as in April. Horrible. Why the urge to use the IRS in puzzles rather than just a straight forward clue ? And why all the Harry Potter crap clues ? Do we all have to read Harry Potter books so we can do the NYT crossword ? Odelet ?? Spell check doesn't recognize it. I think I'll pen an odelet this evening.

Not a NICE ONE. This produced a very bad taste in my mouth. I need to wash it out with a good dinner.

wcutler 2:28 AM  

@burtonkd 9:22 AM re Music Trivia
Thanks for that! Wikipedia has tons of sound clip examples with written music.

Beatlesfan 5:58 AM  

It's Shakespeare, surely

Beatlesfan 6:15 AM  

Calf..yes, really. Ice bergs calve.

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