Film comedy bomb of 1994 / SAT 8-15-20 / Word whispered by quiet old lady in Goodnight Moon / Worms 1980s toys / Internet marketing metric

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Constructor: Joe DiPietro

Relative difficulty: Challenging (I was too tired to start a Saturday, should've just done it in the morning)


THEME: none 

Word of the Day: NAT Sherman cigars (51A) —
Nat Sherman is the brand name for a line of handmade cigars and "luxury cigarettes." The company, which began as a retail tobacconist, continues to operate a flagship retail shop now located on 42nd Street, off Fifth Avenue, in New York City. Corporate offices are now located at the foot of the George Washington Bridge in Fort LeeNew Jersey. [...] Sherman advertised during New York Giants radio broadcasts. Every major play during the game, Giants commentator Bob Papa exclaimed "Get that man a Nat Sherman cigar!". / Slang terminology for a PCP-laced tobacco cigarette is a "sherm" or "sherman", named for the brand.
• • •

Sometimes trying to write this blog in the 10pm to 7am window just ... doesn't quite work out. I get too tired too early, fall asleep on the couch, wake up in a kind of no man's land, and have to decide, "OK, solve and blog now, or set the alarm for 4am and solve and blog then?" I was fully prepared to go with the latter, but after I'd brushed my teeth I thought, "well, I'm up, let's just do this." Tonight, that was Not the right call. I haven't been this off a puzzle's wavelength in a long time, and I just found almost every part of this solve grueling and unpleasant. It was especially unpleasant because except for the center, the grid looks like a Monday or Tuesday grid—lots of black squares, lots of short stuff. And let me tell you, there is something particularly awful about having to wade through so much short stuff that is clued at nth-degree difficulty. I'll take my difficulty almost any other way, but, like, brutal clues on crap like MSG and GLO and (ugh) SIDE A, you can shove all of that. The SW was pretty tractable, but the rest, oof. I kept stopping, which is not something I normally do during a solve. The center stack actually looks OK, but who in the world is going to be excited by techno-corporate garbage like ADCLICKRATE and SALES and AOL ("pioneer"?) and ETRADE even OPEN A NEW TAB. Did a sales algorithm with a LA QUINTA loyalty card write this puzzle? And speaking of OPEN A NEW TAB ... and GET A SHOCK, and MADE A NEST ... again, oof. Big "ATE A SANDWICH" energy. Indefinite article abuse. This was just SOUR NOTE after SOUR NOTE, but the main issues were: too much short stuff (so, lots of fussy difficulty for zero payoff) and too much stultifying fill. Again, those three longer Across answers in the middle are nice. But man I did not enjoy myself one bit with this one.


Also unpleasant—how reliant I was on crosswordese just to get a toehold in this thing. First things I wrote in were stuff like NCR and OREM and ODE and DOER. Had THAT (at 8D) and no idea about the rest (THAT IS SICK). Had GET (at 9D) and no idea about the rest (GET A SHOCK). So moving between parts of the grid ... I just got repeatedly stymied by what ultimately seemed like pretty arbitrary phrases (you'd probably say "THAT'S SICK," honestly, and again, the whole "A" in the middle of so many phrases (like GET A SHOCK) just kept making me shake my head. 


Here are some Selected Problems:

Problems (selected):
  • SIDEA (2D: Finer cut, usually) — "Finer cut" is ugh. No. It's the radio-friendly cut, perhaps, but that doesn't make it finer. Just horrible misdirection.
  • RITA (14A: Romance novelist's award) — probably seen this before, but ... blank. At one point wanted EDNA
  • ARABS (1D: About 5% of the world's population) — if you say so. Totally random. No life in the clue at all. Horrid.
  • BEHESTS (20A: Commands) — archaic / formal / almost never seen outside of a prepositional "at" phrase ... no idea. Had INSISTS.
  • ARKS (6D: Asylums) — first, it's asyla, and second, I barely know what this means. Ah, I see the third def. is "place or thing furnishing protection; refuge"; this feels about as in-the-language as plural BEHESTS
  • ARCHER (15A: One taking a bow) — I had ANCHOR. . . because ... "bow" is nautical, maybe? I don't know. Again, I'm very tired.
  • CAN'T GO (5A: Terse invitation to an invitation) — weirdly equivocated over that "G," thinking it might be a "D" (I mean, if CAN DO is a thing...)
  • MSG / GLO / AOL — just a rough ugly corner, that NE. Because of the quot. marks, I had "No MAS"; no idea what these alleged "1980s toys" are .... GLO Worms, you say? I had SNO Worms at one point
  • DUO (19A: Smallest possible band) — well this is a lie. I direct your attention to the phrase "one-man band." 
  • NAT (51D: ___ Sherman cigars) — no idea none zero. Cigars ... LOL yep if you wanted a topic farthest from me, that's the one. Just no hope here.
  • LINEN (40D: Scrim material)— by this point, I disliked the puzzle so much that my brain kind of shut off. It was all I could do to put together Any kind of "material" from the letters I got from crosses. Sure, LINEN totally makes me think of "scrims" and vice versa, awesome. Whatever.
  • ROLLS UP TO (32D: Arrives at in a vehicle) — I had PULLS UP TO, though as errors go that one was not bad; easily fixable
  • LANA (25A: One of the film-directing Wachowskis) — I wanted MIRA, why? Is the other one MIRA??? Dammit, it's Lilly. Where the hell did MIRA come from?
  • CEE (33D: Artichoke heart?) — this was the worst. Saw right through it ... but in the wrong way. I wrote in ICH. You see. You see how that works, right? That's *at least* as "good" as (ugh) CEE
Good riddance.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

144 comments:

Frantic Sloth 12:48 AM  

NE corner from hell! Didn't help that I was married to "No MAS" either. But I eventually managed to slap myself upside my head and jar the cobwebs and blinders loose. Sheesh.

Then the NW corner happened and I was starting to get frustrated with my inability to tap into the required wavelength. I thought I'd caught a glimmer at ARCHER and TAMPER, but it was fool's gold.

Gee. How apropos.

Come to think of it, I spent about 75% of the entire solving time in those two corners. That's just annoying.

Entered JEDIS for "something the force is responsible for" which led me to
_ _ _DICKRATE as the "internet marketing metric" and I just couldn't unsee it.

Once again, everything eventually came to light and I was able to finish, look back at the trail of gore, and check for missing limbs.

All there. The limbs, not me. Clearly.

🧠🧠🧠🧠.5
πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰

Anonymous 12:51 AM  

Totally agree with you. I actually just finished with what must be my worst Saturday time. It felt like I was doing a puzzle in another language. 1994 film it's pat?

Robin 12:59 AM  

I'lll admit that alcohol slowed me down on this one. So my solve time was slow.

There were some things I liked such as LIQUORLICENSE.

But I'm getting rich and effing tired of seeing AOL as an answer in the grid, and the clue is always (let me repeat, always!) wrong.

okanaganer 1:26 AM  

Hands up for INSISTS instead of BEHESTS. Which meant with no idea for 1, 14, and 17 across (see below issues), 3 down "anxious" had to be ANTSY. Stuck! For me, the northwest was the only hard part. RITA does not need to be clued as an acronym, for pity's sake! Why do it??

But the worst thing is: AD CLICK RATE. This Google search proves it: search for AD CLICK RATE, you get CLICK THROUGH RATE, aka CTR.

Yes, the center was nice. RIDES UP TO was the only hiccup.

jae 1:45 AM  

Tough! NW ate a ton of nanoseconds. I went back and forth between SAYS HI and nodS HI (had aSian as the 5% for a while even though I was pretty sure that was not the case). Plus I can never remember if SAMUEL is EL or aL. Plus the AD in AD CLICK took a while to emerge. Plus some of the cluing was just plain evil....”Finer cut, usually”...

Liked it, nice to have a tough Sat. once in a while.

Sue T. 1:53 AM  

This took me 37 long, long, LONG minutes. Probably my worst Saturday time in a couple of years!

puzzlehoarder 2:05 AM  

I was so enjoying having the weekend off and being able to sit down with a puzzle again. Wouldn't you know I get this frankenpuzzle from hell to solve.

The NE down to the SW was downright benign. The SE took some work but when I tried to backfill the NW the wheels came off.

Back when I first filled that north central section I got a bad feeling when ___ICKRATE gave me nothing. I'd already blanked on that romance award and everything west and north of SAYSHI and ISH was a no go. For over an hour I tried to make ANTSY at 3D and INSISTS at 20A work. After finally taking them out I stared at the white space until I fell asleep in my chair. On waking the internet /CLICK thing finally clicked and I got SALES at 4D. Next came ASIS then SIDEA and that corner finally fell.

I know sticking it out and refusing to cheat make you a better solver but this one really got under my skin.

chefwen 2:37 AM  

As much trouble I had getting started with Friday’s puzzle this one was worse. Friday’s got easier as I got into it, this on did not.
Getting LIQUOR LICENSE and SAMUAL BECKETT saved my ass, but the rest was a real workout for me.

Have to agree with Rex on the short fill, etc.

Looking forward to Sunday’s extravaganza, hope it’s a good one.

Maxine NerdstrΓΆm 3:27 AM  

I also felt very off the wavelength on the cluing for this one. On my first pass through both across and down clues I only had six answers filled in. But I actually ended up liking the puzzle— I was about 20 minutes over my usual Saturday time, but I was able to solve it without any cheating, and I wouldn’t have been able to do that a couple years ago. The fact that this puzzle put up a bit of a fight for me made me feel accomplished. I still think of myself as a new solver, but I’ve been doing a daily puzzle for more than three years now so thank goodness I’ve gotten a bit stronger! :) When I started, Fridays and Saturdays were so intimidating.

I am a child of the 80s and GLO worm was actually a gimme for me— so maybe that helped. It’s a singing light up lullaby toy for babies and young children, for anyone wondering. They are still made, my nephew has one.

The eastern side of the puzzle was the most challenging for me even being certain of GLO. I was stumped on that German to Spanish clue. And I have never wracked my brain about Jim Davis’ Garfield to such an extent. IngA? Inge? IslA? IlsA? lol.

I enjoyed seeing John LEWIS’ name in the puzzle (even crossing a Garfield character), CISgender (hopefully an educational vocab word for some), and the middle stack was nice, especially with that misdirect on LIQUORLICENSE. I was definitely thinking about the bar attorneys have to pass.

I always enjoy reading your take on the puzzle even when it’s grumpy. Thanks for what you do here, even when you’re tired.

Nick 3:52 AM  

A bit of a milestone for me, as this is the first time in over 15 years of solving the NYTXW that I completed a Saturday grid that OFL rated Challenging. It took me just over 90 minutes (my average is about 50, I think). Had a lot of the same issues as Rex. Probably my biggest hang up was "tinker" at 21A. Then I talked myself into the misspelled "klamor" at 22D, and all that just sat there for about 20 minutes.

I too had mas before MSG at 11A, jedis before SALES at 4D, and I tried to make Sam Shepppppppppard's last name long enough for 35A for longer than I'd care to admit.

It wasn't looking good for me after about 45 min., with basically the entire middle of the puzzle and then some completely blank, then LA QUINTA finally popped into my head, and I had my toehold. I finished up all around HERB ALPERT, whose name only rang the vaguest of bells, but I fixed "leek" at 37A, and YEAH for me !

Did I like the puzzle? Who cares. I finished it, fair and square. Alright that's enough patting myself on the back, cheers!

Harryp 4:32 AM  

This one did me in. Just to much I couldn't guess, and although some parts, like the NE were breaking out, Things like RITA and ADCLICKRATE had me totally in the dark. @Jae, I did the NYT July 1, 1994 Archived puzzle and it was a fun solve- 25:58 which is below my Friday average speed.

Ann Howell 5:08 AM  

Agree with all above - this was a real slog, and not a very fun one. Had so many wrong answers (SMILES for SAYS HI, PULLS UP TO for ROLLS UP TO, etc) that at first that nothing made sense. SAMUEL BECKETT and LOLITA kept me in the game, but LAQUINTA was a real NATICK for me (but, ironically, coming from New England, I know Natick!). I expect Saturday to be a challenge, but this one was not only tough, but deeply unsatisfying. Let's hope Sunday redeems the week!

Smitty 5:48 AM  

I enjoyed it. Once I got a sense of the mindset, I had a better idea what to look for. After filling in some of the obvious partial answers (That...)(.....s up to) etc. the crosses were easier.
Friday time on a Saturday.

Anonymous 5:55 AM  

I liked this more than Rex did, mainly because I was able to solve it, despite, like others, slowed by the NE and SW corners.

27D, HERB ALPERT. Those of us who went to college in the 1960s may remember this as the real dawn of the stereo era. A lucky few in the dorm had good stereo systems, which gave a richer sounds. Speakers would typically be set up far apart, to exaggerate the different sounds. All was well and incrementally better, until suddenly--bam!--some odd percussion sound came from one speaker alone. Herb Alpert and Tony Orlando ("Knock Three Times," where the knock was confined to one speaker) must have been responsible for the sales of millions of stereo systems a few years earlier than otherwise. They should have asked for a percentage.

Anon. i.e. Poggius

Joaquin 5:59 AM  

Minority Report: Loved it.

Lots of goofy misdirects providing many "aha moments" during the solve. Learned some new stuff (Rita Awards, for one), too. Only real nit is one @Rex pointed out: no reason we cannot have a one-man-band (though I'm surprised Rex doesn't call them "one-person-band!)

Lewis 6:42 AM  

Hard fought, a tall mountain for me, SO many squares hard earned. Where I discover with elation a little opening only to hit another barrier. Where I crack a marvelously devious clue, then run into another.

I felt part Jean Valjean, part Indiana Jones. Push-fight-go. Push-fight-go.

Man, Joe, I loved this one. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

ChuckD 6:47 AM  

I just don’t understand Rex’s take on these things. He pans the puzzle because it was difficult and not on his wavelength instead of critiquing as a tough puzzle he had trouble with. As an English professor does he grumble and bitch to his students about traditionally difficult reads (Pynchon, Faulkner Joyce etc)? Saturday’s are supposed to be tough.

I do agree with Rex on the short gluey things though - they gave me the most trouble. Really liked the center stack - knew BECKETT and LIQOUR LICENSE went in quickly. Kind of weird to have CIS adjacent to the Wachowski clue as I believe both brothers have now transitioned. In terms of SIDE A - there are times when the flip side was the better tune but there was reason producers and artists identified the primary side.

This was a hard one - probably double my normal time but it was a welcome challenge. Now on to the stumper.

JD 7:26 AM  

I tried. But this was one that my brain just wasn't pliable enough to get around.

amyyanni 7:30 AM  

In the minority report corner w/ @Joaquin. Figuring out Herb Alpert made me smile. This Guy's in Love, such a sweet song, w/ the fellow's shakin' hands & breakin' heart. Totally agree that NW corner was the proverbial tough nut to crack. Must have forgotten about the movie, but androgynous Pat was a popular SNL character so was able to suss it out. Open a New Tab made me think of a bar tab, so thought it cleverly connected to liquor license.
Hope your Saturdays are rejuvenating.

M. Poppins 7:34 AM  

So much whining.

Lobster11 7:44 AM  

Had 100% confidence in INSISTS crossing ANTSY in the NW. Had to cheat to get RITA, which forced me to give up ANTSY and then the rest fell easily.

I solve late-week puzzles on paper without a timer, in a leisurely fashion, so I'm just the opposite of Rex: The longer it takes me the more I like it, because the more entertainment I get for my dime. I liked this one a lot.

Frayed Knot 8:02 AM  

I doubt that Pablo Neruda's Ode to Wine was written about anything made with all of the sour grapes we have today.
What a bunch of crybabies.
Some of us enjoy a challenge.

Hungry Mother 8:19 AM  

I wasn’t tired before the solve, but slogged out after it. A W is a W, so it’s OK. Cleverly devious clueing. A nice challenge.

ncmathsadist 8:19 AM  

Agreed. The fill is just horrible. And the cluing on the short stuff: arcane and abysmal. Probably the worst: NAT (cigars). That could have been cluded far better. There were quite a few instances of this sort of madness.

Pamela 8:33 AM  

OK, so I’m a whining crybaby. This was tough! Fiendish clueing made it nearly impossible for me. I started last night, but got really tired and decided to finish in the morning. When I woke up, I was surprised to see a nearly empty grid. I struggled all over the place, even though I knew John LEWIS and HERB ALPERT. Eventually I consulted Mr. G. for LANA, RITA and the like, and slowly made my way through. The North, both East and west, were the worst. I feel battle scarred.

A Saturday challenge indeed, but no joy.

GILL I. 8:41 AM  

Does staring at a blank puzzle for oh, maybe an hour, make it easier? Didn't work for me. My oof meter was ticking away - just like my life. I had to do my old tried and true, get up and do the laundry trick. Amazing how sometimes that works. Emptying the dishwasher also helps.
So I finally saw a little crack in my window that allowed me to breath. It has to be ITCHY and landscapers don't like CACTI. That was it. I then went on down to that old lady who quietly whispered something to a moon. I wanted her to bark. No...she said HUSH. Why? Then I really began to screw it up for 27D. I had the H there so I toyed with Humperdink and his "It's not unusual." That didn't work. Of course..... good old HERB ALPERT came into view. Phew. Thanks to him, I got LIQUOR and SAMUEL.....and the rest sort of fell in.
Fits and starts the whole way. Little by little my fingers did their magic tricks. The attic was getting pretty empty of cobwebs but I still had to clean out 17A. Nothing made sense to me. I just felt I needed to call on some help . I did. My one and only AD CLICK RATE.
LA QUINTA fell into view easily because AQUA is the only shade I think about at the beach. That hotel chain is usually the one we use because they allow our little fur balls to stay free. Moved on over to wonder about LOLITA and how she fared with the rest of her life....
I didn't love this but I didn't hate it either. Yeah...interesting (on purpose?)....CIS next to LANA.
Why am I singing HUSH little baby don't you cry.....?

Elizabeth 8:41 AM  

My husband and I did this one together and we LOVED it. So many charming answers and relatively little gross filler. Surprised to be in the minority on that reaction!

mooretep 8:44 AM  

I enjoy a crunchy Saturday. This was why I liked it.

I was going to write more, but "Frayed Knot" pretty much summed it up.

Anonymous 8:46 AM  

What he said. Except I got GLO (my son never had one but I probably knew every toy on the shelf from '87 for the next 15 years). Now Rex knows how I feel every Saturday - and a few other days as well. - newbie

TJS 8:52 AM  

Enjoyed the solve but drew a blank with antsy and insists in the NE. Finally had to "Check Woed" antsy, tear it out along with insists, and stare some more before seeing "sales" and this let me put in the "asis" that I wanted all along. A tough Saturday, but what the hell. Loved the revealing Rex comment :"I kept stopping, which is not something I normally do during a solve." If I didn't have to stop and think, I would find something else to do.

Space Is Deep 8:53 AM  

Challenging but fun. Just what I want on a Saturday. Fell for the INSISTS trap, which really slowed me down. Love the clue for Prepared to move to the sticks. Had an aha moment when I finally got that one.

Z 9:10 AM  

Well, I guess I get to feel all superior today. This despite the fact that I had nada, zippo, zilch, in the grid except for a tentative DUO (lots of “bands” these day are just one person “performing as...”) until I got to WIDE NET confirmed immediately by WADE, ODE, LEWIS, AT BAT and I was off and running. I made short work of the SE, PERT made HERB ALPERT boomerly obvious, ICED UP windshields reminded me of home, I remembered SAMUEL BECKETT with three letters in place, and just basically swooshed on until I got back to the NW. Stalled for several fraught nanoseconds, but tried SAYS HI off the I then ITCHY off the Y which exposed that all the internet really cares about is showing us ADs, and boom, finished at AS IS. I went from “oh no this is going to be impossible” to “done” in what felt like Wednesday time.

And, yes, this speedy solve probably is reflected in my @Joaquinish “Liked It” reaction. You may have noticed before my fondness for PLAINT, so that entry made me smile. And I thought all the internet stuff provided some balance to the HERB ALPERT, IT’S PAT, Garfield ‘90’s vibe. Yeah Yeah, Garfield is still in the paper. Does anyone under 60 still read it? I take a peak every once in awhile and it is still the exact same jokes from 25 years ago. Anyway, the internet stuff balanced that.

Someone is asserting the AOL clue is wrong? Wow, how young are you? I still remember my first class in my Masters program, a class for both people in Ed Leadership and Human Resources, and my AOL personal email put me in the minority of people who had a personal email account. AOL was most definitely one of the pioneers of the internet. For a few years there it was, for all intents and purposes, the internet for huge swaths of America. Want to be really shocked? AOL dial-up connection to the internet is still available. Yowser. And, yes, I still have my AOL email account. I’m positive that it will still be receiving dick rate spam long after I’m dead.

NAT Sherman is one of those clues that used to stymie me. The key for me is not to get locked in on my ignorance, but to translate the clue into something sussable.”Sherman” is a name so we are probably looking for a three letter first name. The N made Ned or NAT likely. See, not that impenetrable.

Jay 9:10 AM  

I have been a daily solver of the NYT crossword puzzle for over 40 years.
Today I am announcing with great fanfare and pride that I finished the puzzle without any mistakes. All that was accomplished in 61 minutes flat and in one uninterrupted seating. Unaided by humans or machines.
So it is quite surprising that Rex found this one challenging.
I also lament the capriciousness of Rex critique. With a more positive disposition, Rex could well have found some laudatory words to add to his review.

Frantic Sloth 9:13 AM  

I need to amend my party hats. Either I was falling asleep or feeling magnanimous or filling some imagined quota, but it was f-ing something Bizarro-Worldish.

Perhaps I stuttered.

In any case, here:

.5πŸŽ‰

Anonymous 9:14 AM  


It would be very interesting to see two clue lists for every puzzle; the original one by the constructor and the final version.

Rube 9:22 AM  

Agree. Make it tough. Make it last. Once again we don't get a solving time from rex when he is challenged. And again for him, it seems that hard puzzle = bad puzzle

Mr. Banks 9:32 AM  

@M. Poppins You're fired. πŸ˜‰

Frantic Sloth 9:46 AM  

@Z 910am πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ I see what you did there.

kitshef 9:48 AM  

I'm in the "loved it" camp.

Critical difference between yesterday and today. Yesterday I was continually stymied by unknown names. There is nothing you can do about that - it's a dead end.

Today, stymied by very tough cluing. Those you can think, and re-think, and try things out, and eventually get it. Not a dead end. More like a confusing intersection that you might have to double-back to a couple of times, but eventually you can find the path.

Five for Fighting is an example of a band smaller than a DUO.

bauskern 9:52 AM  

SOOT was positively brilliant.
If Saturday puzzles were easy, then honestly, what would be the point?
This was tough, and I was stymied by NCR, but now I'll just file that tidbit away for next time.
In many ways this was the quintessential [a] toughie and [b] ensuing critique: It made you work & grind; rex comes up w/ a litany of excuses for his difficulties (late night; not his wavelength) and then hides his finish time. *yawn* On to the rest of the morning!

Carola 9:54 AM  

Tough and rewarding, a worthy Saturday. Not getting anywhere at all across the top, I tried the "Okay, let's try the bottom corner" approach, and got my start with TE AMO (not sure how I feel about the cross with LOLITA), whose Down mates were also easy and gave me the foothold I needed. Getting up to the top felt like climbing El Capitan, but I really enjoyed figuring it all out. Last in: ARABS x RITA. Do-over: me, too, for "ich."

Petsounds 9:55 AM  

Even during a pandemic AND recovering from surgery so I am really stuck at home, life's too short, so I just stopped. First NYT puzzle I haven't finished in years. I usually like the difficulty of the Saturday puzzle--I like having to work at the clever clues. But this? No amount of work was going to do it, and after I'd looked up a couple of answers and my reaction was "Huh?", it began to seem as if DiPinto had taken a lot of pleasure in simply coming up with absurd clues for answers--like CEE. And just plain wrong answers--like LINEN (scrims are made of many materials, but usually something lighter and floatier than linen; I made a lot of them in my time in college).

So not only are DiPinto and I on entirely different wavelengths--we clearly live on entirely different planets. And from now on, streaks be damned. I'm not going to waste either my time or the few remaining shreds of my good mood on Joe DiPinto.

Oh--hated this puzzle, in case that wasn't clear.

RooMonster 9:57 AM  

Hey All !
Put me in the "tough" camp. Been a while since I plum gave up and hit Reveal Word. But desperate times, and all that.

For MADEANEST, wanted it to start HAD, so 11A "No ___" was h_G, and all I could think of was HUG. First Reveal Word-er. MSG, ooohhhh. Also didn't know the Wachowskis transed to women. I looked, it was late 2000's, ten years ago, where have I been? I usually hear about celebrity things, regardless if I want to or not. Missed that.

SE corner was a toughie for me. LINEN and LEWIS were Huhs? I don't watch news (especially political news), so the John LEWIS one is defensible in my mind! Also surprised LOLITA is a film from 1962. Yow.

Speaking of 1962, did others think puz skewed old? Surprised Rex didn't rail on that.

TAMPER for Monkey is a stretch to me. Twixt that and LANA and ANON as clued, oof. Looked up LANA, finally able to unravel that section. Had my second Reveal Word at 1A, of all places. Had __I_, and the ole brain couldn't come up with anything. Once I saw it was ASIS, finally was able to complete puz.

What's with the odd chunk of blocks? Dang man, get rid of the three on that line of six, open up your themeless a bit. Just sayin'. πŸ˜€

No F's! ROTTEN
TEAM O SAYS HI
RooMonster
DarrinV

William of Ockham 10:03 AM  

dreck

dreck of the lowest order

egsforbreakfast 10:05 AM  

This puzzle had a Mondayish number of “blocks” (38), but a Fridayish average word length (5.50) and a Saturdayish number of words (68). What this tells me is that Rex’s analysis is correct. There is some fun, flowing fill in the center, supplemented by a ton of tiny words that can only be brought to Saturday level by juicing the cluing to overheating. Does this mean it’s a bad puzzle? No, certainly not. It gets to Saturday level by the routes available once the structure is locked in.

Keep in mind as well that it was submitted less than 28 days ago (John Lewis’ death) and that the NYT tells mortals only that they will try to review their submission within 90 days. This hints that a 135 times contributor like Joe DiPietro gets published essentially unrevised, which seems warranted. This puz might not be one for the CPHOF (Crossword Puzzle Hall of Fame), but it is a fun and challenging Saturday.

RickA 10:06 AM  

As to DUO and one-man band, first, the clue is not necessarily referring to a musical "band," but could be referring generically to a "band" of people or other things, which of necessity must include more than one. But even if it refers to a musical "band," yes, you need two or more. The fact that one person is able to play multiple instruments and jocularly refers to herself as a "one man band" does not mean that a "one-man band" is actually a "band."

Anonymous 10:07 AM  

Z,
How does today differ from any other day?

Joe Welling 10:07 AM  

Rex said, "(6D: Asylums) — first, it's asyla, "

Every dictionary I own gives the plural as "asylums" or "asyla"--in that order.

My quibble is with the clue for SIMULCAST. A movie, for example, can be shown in many places and not be simulcast.

Anonymous 10:08 AM  

This was a tale of two puzzles. The top was an inscrutable mess; the rest was a decent Saturday solve. Like many, it was difficult to get a foothold anywhere in the top 3rd. Even after solving the bottom two-thirds, I was literally back to square one to slog through vague and misdirecting clues. I eventually got it all, but lost any joy along the way.

Old white guy in Idaho 10:09 AM  

I like a challenge, enjoy clever clueing.
I read his rants and think “get over it, it’s just a crossword puzzle.”

This thing was the rarely clever. I could not agree more with his rant.
Like the constructor was thinking “oh yeah, they’ll say ‘I see what you did there! Really cool!’ “.
I never did.

Mr. Cheese 10:12 AM  

Worst Saturday solve ever. I just had mistakes all over and gave up after an hour.
I’m not like Rex. I was the problem, not the puzzle.

Miranda 10:19 AM  

Once again, Gilbert & Sullivan rescued me. Iolanthe sings to Strephon:

When all is drear and dark / and tempest wreck thy barque
If thou shouldst need an ark / I’ll give thee one

Iolanthe is immortal, so her language is on the quaint side - even for the 1890s! But the dastardly Peers overhear her, and think Strephon is chatting up some pretty young thing, rather than having a tender conversation with his mother. They sing:

I heard the minx remark / she’d meet him after dark
Inside St. James’s Park / and give him one!

Whatsername 10:23 AM  


Whoa Joe!! I actually drew a heart shape and wrote the word LOVE! with a circle around it while still in the middle of solving. I was enjoying it so much I already knew it was going to be one to remember. Had a tough time cracking the NW corner but otherwise it was just the right Saturday level of challenge. I rarely look at the constructor’s name until I’m finished so when I saw that Joe DiPietro up there, it was a sweet bit of icing on the cake.

While I wasn’t surprised that Rex did his usual nitpicking, I GOTASHOCK to learn I’m in the minority with loving it. Maybe I’m just easily entertained but show me “excited by techno-corporate garbage like ADCLICKRATE and SALES and AOL.” I CANT decide where to start so I won’t attempt to list all my favorites but CACTI made me smile, and I was pleased to see the iconic John LEWIS. The clue for SOOT totally threw me before I realized it’s that nasty mess in the chimney. Years ago I had my wood-burning fireplace converted to gas logs and it was the best money I ever spent. No muss, no fuss and much more energy-efficient.

Loved the quote from BECKETT. Certainly an abundance of proof of that in the world today. Just take a look at most any news cycle. It’s enough to drive you mad.

HERBALPERT is a name I hadn’t heard in a long time but I can recall his music like it was yesterday. I love his familiar classic Spanish Flea.. Adios for now.


janky strank 10:23 AM  

Ya this puzzle was definitely tricky. Loved the SAMUELBECKETT though--not sure I've ever seen him as an answer before, but was happily reminded of my all time favorite <3

barryevans 10:31 AM  

Got a few random entries, but finally had to admit it, completely stuck. So looked up RITA. And suddenly...it opened up to me! Took forever, but loved it, real sense of achievement. Thanks Joe, brilliant!

Photomatte 10:32 AM  

This one was a challenge. It started off with 19Across (smallest possible band). Since the term "one man band" is quite common, and since I've actually seen a one man band in action, I confidently filled in ONE as my answer. Eventually I realized it had to be DUO but I do wish the clue hadn't been erroneous. C'mon, Shortz!

PS: Remember to hand-deliver your ballots if you can! If you must mail them, mail them as early as you can and add extra postage!

floatingboy 10:37 AM  

Usually when I come here for consolation after a tough grid, I get none. At least today I do! NW was super hard. That alone doubled my solve time. Boooooo. What a brutal bunch of crosses!

TTrimble 10:40 AM  

Wow, did I find this puzzle difficult. Particularly the NW corner murdered me (although I'm proud to say I finally got it). Was thinking "antsy" before ITCHY, thought the finer cut was of beef, had "insists" before "behests", thought at first 23A would end in an "s" since 5D was a plural form -- "geez-o-flip!" would be what dear old Dad might have said in response (some of the things that came out of his mouth I've never heard anywhere else).

Just getting started took a while, but I finally gained some purchase in the SE corner and it sort of spread from there. Was happy to enter HERB ALPERT with some confidence -- I've had "This Guy's in Love with You" on and off in my head for about two months, weirdly. Conjectured "broadCAST" before SIMULCAST, "square" before EQUATE, "pulls UP TO" before "ROLLS UP TO" -- okay, you get the idea. Last sections to fall were NE and NW.

Time not too terribly off the average, but hoo boy, what a workout. It made me a little ITCHY and I'm looking for some soothing relief in tomorrow's puzzle.

JD 10:41 AM  

@Frantic from yesterday, Almost forgot (had real work to do!) I remember those toons like it was yesterday. Course I always cheered for the little guy.

Anonymous 10:43 AM  

I take exception to the clue 16 across. There is a difference between the Internet and the web. The Internet has been around since 1969 while the web has only taken root in the late 80s and 90s. AOL is primarily a web-based / browser-based pioneer.

Nancy 10:47 AM  

Oh, did I suffer!! Oh, did I persevere!! Oh, did I manage to not cheat, though I was sorely tempted!! And, oh, do I feel absolutely brilliant!!

I never thought I'd finish even the SE, much less the tricky NW with all its traps lurking for the unsuspecting. Because so many wrong answers worked with each other. ANTSY for "Anxious" fit perfectly with INSISTS for "Commands". Except that it was ITCHY fitting perfectly with BEHESTS. Only when I finally thought of AS IS for "Unrepaired" did the section finally break open. (I had originally wanted DOWN, but never wrote it in, since none of the letters seemed to be right.)

The cluing is fiendishly beautiful. Where to begin? SIDE A; CACTI; SIMULCAST; AT BAT; WIDE NET. So imaginative and original.

For once I was helped by a proper name. SAMUEL BECKETT took up a lot of real estate and once I had SAM---------, who else would have said such a thing? (See 35A). My thought on the subject: If you aren't already, go watch a Beckett play and you soon will be. I call all his work: "Plays to slit your wrists by".

A terrific Saturday. Completely engrossing and crunchy as hell.

Z 11:02 AM  

@Everyone - The constructor is not our own Joe DiPinto.

@egsforbreakfast - Why do you think this was submitted 28 days ago? The LEWIS clue referencing that he passed away just means that the clue has been edited since then. For all we know the grid was submitted years ago. I do think someone like Joe DiPietro gets edited less, but the LEWIS clue is not evidence for that.

@RickA - I agree that the clue isn’t wrong, but I’d parse it a little differently than you did. A clue doesn’t (can’t) be right for every definition, it just has to be right for A definition. “Band” definitely has a meaning that implies a group, so even though there can be a singular “band,” a wedding band that goes on one’s finger for example, and there are musical “bands” that aren’t actually bands, the clue isn’t wrong.

@Roo - OPEN A NEW TAB with a web browser clue by itself brings this puzzle into the 21st century. LANA Wachowski, too. So I’d say it’s fairly balanced. Maybe not AVCX or The New Yorker fresh, but a mix of old and new.

@Sloth9:46 - I thought you would. πŸ˜ŽπŸ†πŸ˜Ž

@Anon10:07 - Har! Good one. I don’t feel superior most days so are you sure it’s not just that you feel inferior every day? Zing!

Outta here for a few hours.

What? 11:21 AM  

Well, there are people who like Trump and there are people who solved this horrendous puzzle. Nothing political. I mean I just don’t understand.

Swagomatic 11:23 AM  

Toughie, I stopped last night and went to bed. It was a good decision. Overall, it was okay.

Bree140 11:29 AM  

I suppose it’s technically true that Nat Sherman “continues to operate a flagship retail shop located on 42nd Street” (as the Wikipedia entry quoted above says), but it won’t be true for much longer: the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday (in an article headlined “Famed 90-Year-Old NYC Tobacco Shop Snuffed Out”) that the shop will be closing on September 25. Which just goes to show that relying on Wikipedia for your information is as lazy as relying on CliffsNotes for the reading you never got around to doing for a class.

mathgent 11:40 AM  

When I do a Joe DiPietro puzzle, I imagine that I am hanging out in his bar, talking to him. So great, being with a cool, street-wise New Yorker.

This one was right at the border of my DNF land. There were 13 mysteries, entries I didn’t know or, if I did know them, which I couldn’t connect to the clue. That’s 20%, my limit. It took all the energy my ancient brain could muster to solve it without cheating.

What is cheating? I do the puzzles on paper. After I finish, I go to Jeff Chen to see if I got it right. When people who solve on-line finish, don’t get the OK, and correct their errors, do they consider that cheating?

I still had a lot of white space when I saw SAMUELBECKETT. Then it all fell apart for me and I finished almost immediately.

Wonderful puzzle!

Newboy 11:52 AM  

Oh Joe!

Finally finished with the plural S at one across to get the music....certainly not a POC for this household. But what a great way to start the weekend. So many noun/verb ambiguity clues spanning the decades. MADE A NEST and many other entries were spot on when the penny finally dropped. Just what I needed for a humility transplant. I think people will love or hate this one depending on how open to a very challenging grid they are. From RITA to BECKETT to Neruda is a literati double play worthy of the diamond fan’s AT BAT & SAC double. There literally is something for anybody here today (HERB ALPERT?), so no in-house SECRET SOCIETY handshake needed. I am impressed.

Back to read Rex & y’all.

Giovanni 11:58 AM  

I had problems with this, but I have problems with all of them. I even finished this one faster than a lot of Saturdays (1 hour 10 minutes). I'm very happy with that as a 6 month newb. I'm getting my Saturday average down from around 2 hours.

The last thing to go in was ITS PAT and that made me laugh. I had ATS BAT and you never know, that could be a movie.

I had USDAA for Side A- I guess that was the misdirection? Is that a kind of meat?

The funny thing about crosswords, an entry will give you a memory or a story. I have a HERB ALPERT story:

When I was a kid, I was real chatty. I still love to talk. Teachers had trouble with me because they would "move" my desk away from my deak buddy, for excess chatting. Whoever the teacher moved me next to became my new best friend, so it was fruitless. I'll talk to anybody!

In 4th grade I was in the Elementary School Band. I played the Trumpet. Our band leader, Mr. Holloway, used to say:

Now Giovanni, If you could play that trumpet as good as you can talk, you'd be better than Herb Alpert!

I had only LPE when I typed that sucker in.

Crimson Devil 12:01 PM  

This is one fine Sat puz, challenging but somehow doable, surprised me.
Good cluing BOW, MONKEY, ORDER, CUT, and best of all, imo, STAY CLOSE TO HOME.

dmw 12:01 PM  

I liked it, but any Saturday I can do in under 30 minutes meets with my approval.

Ethan Taliesin 12:01 PM  

Two minutes over average time. The NE was where I had the most trouble.

I don't really understand SIDEA for "finer cut." Is that like a subjective thing where the track deemed most commercial friendly gets side A and the track less expected hit #1 goes on side B? That would mean that "finer" means "commercial friendly." That doesn't seem right. Maybe I'm not understanding the clue.

Also "unrepaired" for ASIS wasn't very good. Something could be repaired and still sold ASIS. ASIS just means once you buy it that's it, no guarantees.

Originally threw down "IMBUSY" for terse turndown. I thought it was good, I wish I could have left it.

Anonymous 12:04 PM  

not worth the time I wasted. listened to a "Wait, Wait..." re-run instead.

Ethan Taliesin 12:05 PM  

I meant NW corner not NE

Birchbark 12:17 PM  

I loved Rex's review today. But I also loved this sheer-faced cliff of a solve. Right around 15 minutes is Saturday par for me these days, and my best is just over 8. A few years ago, around 25 minutes was a typical Saturday. Today = 35:57.

It felt like the old days -- random short words scattered around the grid, doubtful isles in a sea of empty squares. Minutes go by, and it's the same.

And wild stabs at preposterous long answers. Decided "Humperdink" was the grammy vocalist/instrumentalist, knew it was misspelled and took it out, then put it back in when the old lady's HUSH restored it to half-baked plausibility. Even tried "rod stewERT" in the same place.

The best nonsense of all was 35A. "We are all born mad" sounded like something a French intellectual would say. So threw down pointillist painter "georges seuraT" off the "g" alone (35D = gAd) -- I knew he was a painter, but maybe 'twas just crazy enough to work. Nope.

By the Great Horned CUTLERY, I liked it.

OffTheGrid 12:18 PM  

@mathgent. The idea of cheating comes up now and then in lots of different ways. Of course each solver, through rationalization or other means, decides for himself. I like your implied definition. Complete the grid with no checks, no reveals, no look ups, on paper or not. Then consult a completed puzzle to see how you did. I do not claim to consistently do it this way. I "should" be more disciplined and develop more patience.

Rube 12:28 PM  

Maybe the intended clue was Arrowsmith creator or friend of Lamb Chop and they made a late change

johnk 12:35 PM  

Complain, complain, complain! HUSH!
Easy Saturday for me. I'll take it AS IS.

old timer 12:38 PM  

Finished it. No lookups. Also not Easy. And I for one feel cheated if a Saturday puzzle is Easy. (Raising hand for "insists" and "antsy", but the actual answers are better than those).

I wanted "no mas" too. "No MSG" is a silly marketing ploy when it comes to packaged food -- I swear I have seen packages of plain California rice that say "No MSG" on them, and maybe "no trans fats" or "no added sugars" as well. It's rice folks! It can have only one ingredient. However, "No MSG" is a good thing to see on a Chinese restaurant menu. I have nothing at all against MSG, but if your dish tastes first rate without it, then you are cooking with fresh ingredients, and cooking with care.

I never knew that about HERB ALPERT. Never really a fan.

Jonesing for @LMS, and wishing her well with the reopening of schools, or maybe non-reopening.

Anonymous 12:47 PM  

No one else has issues with UP crossing UP?

AlsoBrien 12:49 PM  

I’m with you as usual! Fun, tricky, fair.

Sgreennyc 12:53 PM  

Liked it. Tough but fair. I stopped listening to both Rex and Trump a long time ago.

egsforbreakfast 1:06 PM  

@Z. You’re absolutely correct that I drew an unsubstantiable inference about the John Lewis clue. My gut feeling is that I’m right, but there’s a Very good chance that I’m not. Thanks for pointing that out.

jberg 1:07 PM  

Finished, but with two errors: I tried RonA for the award (thinking of Rona Barrett, which was silly), changed the o to I, but not the n to N-- and didn't notice that I had InCHY there. Then I went with Dab/bAT, never having heard of the movie.

This one really chewed me up. Like Rex, I had ich before CEE, so I was looking for a playwright ending in Kh_ _ which had to be Khan. All I had at the start was S, and wasn't sure of that since the abbreviation of SACrifice fly isn't clued. Also fogged before ICED UP and, bizarrely, moab before OREM. I was proud of finisheing, until I came here and saw those errors. Ah well, it was an enjoyable struggle.

Anonymous 1:08 PM  

Don't bother stating if you found this difficult or easy. . . Fascist Rex will decide for you - If he can't figure out something, the clue is (and MUST be) horribly loathsome. . . THAT'S IT. . . End of discussion.

Anonymous 1:14 PM  

I've only been doing crosswords since April or so (thanks Covid-19!!), so Fridays and Saturdays are always hard for me. This was just nuts. For some real fun, check out today's Newsday crossword. Even harder than this one.

jb129 1:27 PM  

Very tough & I did have to cheat. But in the end, a puzzle I wanted to stick (& cheat) with. It IS afterall, Saturday. Prefer a hard Saturday to an easy Monday.

Whew - I'm done. Thank you, Joe (for "Soot")

Mike B 1:38 PM  

DNF, I had "AD CLICK DATA". I did not know OREM or NCR, and not sure why I would know those things? Bad crossings IMO. But aside from that, I thought it was a fun puzzle.

A Trans Solver 1:40 PM  

Another problem: It was great to see CIS and LANA appear, but that made it extra cringy to see the inclusion and acknowledgement of the (now) very problematic ITS PAT.

Tom R 1:47 PM  

You're right - tough, but eventually slogged through it. Thought I was going to have a juicy comment on One Man Band, but Rex (of course) beat me to it. But I wonder if the clue on 27D is literally true. I know I am picking nits and the answer points to two albums, but Louis Armstrong could also be a correct answer (if it fit - it doesn't) with his Hello Dolly album which hit #1 and he both sings and plays on that album. Did anyone else pick up on that?

Anonymous 1:54 PM  

my god that was abysmal.... If I even see that constructors name again not even bothering... pure misery

phil phil 1:59 PM  

ARKS and NCR went in and the K and R was obviously going to be something to do with click and rate. But another comment said it was not a common thing which may be true, it just fit the clue somehow. Probably some of the other answers also were poor as Rex says. But I didn’t complain as they fit somehow even without being a thing or green paintish and got me to finish.

Had MULTICAST. Knew it was true but also knew at some point the MULTI had to go. Wanted FAWN for the AQUA space but .... not really, just thought it would be a cool clue/answer combo.

have issue with 45D Time spent close to home.
Time is plural here as a stat of ATBATS not ATBAT. I think it need the article .... A time spent close to home

DigitalDan 2:10 PM  

Internet Pioneers:
Larry Roberts?
Leonard Kleinrock?
Dave Clark?
Vint Cerf?
Bob Kahn?
I'd call AOL a homesteader, or something

Crimson Devil 2:26 PM  

STACKS great clue as well.

jae 2:32 PM  

@Mathgent - re: cheating. I switched from paper solving to iPad solving a few years ago to save both printer ink and trees. When I finished paper solve I would always go back over the grid to make sure I hadn’t misread a clue or misspelled anything and to check that all my answers made sense. On the iPad when I don’t get the “solved correctly” screen this triggers the same process. If a find a typo or a misread clue or a nonsensical answer and I correct it and get the “you solved it” screen I count it as a successful finish. On the other hand if nothing seems wrong to me or I don’t get the “solved screen” after making a correction I click on “reveal all errors” and count it as a DNF. Today’s puzzle did not trigger a review.

Tim Aurthur 2:53 PM  

From the Reception section of the Wikipedia article on "It's Pat": "a rare 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 11 reviews." Wow, that really is a bomb.

@Rex, your work ethic is admirable, but I for one wouldn't mind waiting till mid-morning if you're too tired to solve/post right away.

I didn't mind this puzzle at all and thought the middle stack was really good.

Hobbyist 3:01 PM  

I loved this puzzle because it was so hard. Plus the Beckett quote backs up what the press has to tell me about the goings on all over the world.

jazzmanchgo 3:06 PM  

Some of our best-known pop hits were originally released as B-sides. The way it would go was that radio DJs weren't getting any action playing the A-side, so they began flipping the record over and playing the other one instead. Just randomly -- start with Bill Haley's "Rock Around the Clock," Tyrone Davis's "Can I Change My Mind," Hank Williams' "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry," Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive," and Booker T. & the MGs' "Green Onions," and go on from there.

Arden 3:20 PM  

Felt smug getting Samuel Beckett right off the bat. But NE and NW completely stumped me. Insists, antsy, no mas. This puzzle ate my lunch!

Anonymous 4:01 PM  

Hi Rex. Perhaps you were confusing Mira (Wachowski) with Myra Breckinridge.
Lou

TVBOBBY 4:10 PM  

This took me forever. Hardest puzzle in as long as I can remember. But man, once it broke open - I don't think I've ever felt this good solving a puzzle. Looking back, it all seems far more obvious. But when you're in it, woo-wee was it tough. But fair, I thought. Clever clues, challenging answers. It was a real test. And I was proud to say I aced it.

CDilly52 4:21 PM  

Seems like perhaps OFL’s slow solve was more because that’s the kind of puzzle this was today-at least by most accounts here. I know it was a toughie for me. If it weren’t for LIQUOR LICENSE and HERB ALPERT, I do believe I would have DNF’d for the first time in about 20-some years! So today marks three days in a row for me that the wolves were excruciatingly slow, but the enjoyment levels were all vastly different. The “3 musketeers” offering from Thursday just left me cold after a multi-hour slog and getting downright angry at what I consider some crap editing by Mr. Shortz. I just cry foul on that whole puzzle but give it’s creator very high marks For a good idea that simply needed more time in the Crocckpot.

Yesterday was absolutely a wheelhouse problem for me-at least with half the puzzle. One half (NW and SE and a few in the middle) was almost Monday easy but the NE diagonally down to the SW just absolutely stumped me in some places. But over all, I thought it was Absolutely fair Friday fare.

And today being Saturday, a toughie is what’s called for. Ban on! At least for me. I take issue perhaps with some of the clues that just seem not to connect to their answers in a way that makes sense. BEHESTS was the first one that just made no sense until the bitter end. Also the “No MSG” clue was just plain awful - does anyone even need to say that any more? On the other hand, the long middle stacks were wonderful, and there were so many other really good, clever and deceptive clues.

Excellent Saturday tussle and I agree with and join @Frantic Sloth’s assessment. And I am looking forward to Monday and a breather!!

Doc John 4:22 PM  

I also wrote in ICH and was pretty damn proud of myself until I saw the clue with "Ich liebe dich" and realized that Shortz couldn't possibly screw up that badly.
Yeah, kind of a slog.

Liz 4:30 PM  

Sac fly was just rude. And I do baseball!

Liz 4:39 PM  

Congratulations!!

john towle 4:48 PM  

Lovely puzzle…you nattering nabobs of negativism should have been around when Rich Norris held onto many of the Saturday slots. Those were wicked hard.

Best,

john

Anoa Bob 5:10 PM  

I used to think that MSG was an artificial flavor enhancer that was unhealthy and was to be avoided. I was surprised when I learned that MSG (monosodium glutamate) exists naturally in some foods like cheese and tomatoes and is responsible for their savory, umami taste. So now I think of MSG like table salt; it's okay to use, just in moderation.

I thought this was a typical Joe DiPietro puzzle. When I was solving on paper in the 90's, there were several times when I would have to wait until the next day to see the solution to one of his puzzles. And even then there would be a "How can that be?" moment or two. Came to the conclusion that he has a twisted mind, in a good way, and trying to get into that mindset is part of the fun of solving one of his puzzle. Today was another example of that---tough, twisted and fun to solve. I bet the next one will be that way too, at least the tough and twisted part. You've been warned.

TJS 5:34 PM  

Just got back from the beach, several cervesas later, and I am in a rather expansive mood. I think this may have been one of our best comment responses ever. So many funny, informative, and observational remarks. Of course @Gill and Nancy always get my attention because they always spend so much thought before they respond. No one can just throw that stuff out unless they are sitting at the Round Table.

Possible thought to newer solvers: It might be hard to avoid puzzle check or solve, but I would suggest leaving unsolved puzzles unsolved. Go back to them once in a while. If on paper, cut'em out and stick'em in a drawer. Check on them every once in a while and see if what you thought was inscrutable is now crystal clear. Just a suggestion. Adios

mathgent 5:39 PM  

@jae (2:32) In the example you gave, I agree that it is a cheat-free solve. Sometimes I finish a puzzle and I see an entry that I’m pretty sure is wrong and decide whether I want to spend time trying to get it right or just look up the correct entry. If it is a puzzle that I respect, I’ll soldier on. If not, I’ll look up because I don’t get any satisfaction from solving a low-quality piece.

TJS 5:41 PM  

QUOTE OF THE DAY : 'I DONT FEEL SUPERIOR MOST DAYS'...@ Z.

Wanderlust 6:14 PM  

I wonder if HERBALPERT really is the only musician to hit No. 1 as a vocalist and instrumentalist. Elton John made it to No. 1 as a vocalist and instrumentalist. And many others who sing and play an instrument. The clue should have said “on different songs” or something.

That said, I kind of liked it, though I agree some of the fill was awful. My first pass revealed little but made headway in the SE, then the center. The NW was the hardest for me. Almost thought I wouldn’t get it without cheating but then guessed at, consecutively, SAYSHI, SIDEA and ASIS, and bam, I was done. Lots of fun AHA-inducing clues, such as MADEANEST, ARCHER, LIQUORLICENSE, WIDENET and CACTI.

Giovanni 6:33 PM  

@mathgent I stopped all cheating about 2 or 3 months ago, and I never look up anything now. Until that stupid TUESDAY puzzle with the For Christ Sake theme.

For fucks sake, after a full hour on this Tuesday puzzle, I used Check Puzzle Tool because I was so annoyed with it. I can usually do Tues in 20 mins or so it was insane.
The HardG, Edna, Cyte situation, spent too much time on that. I think I've been in that situation on Fri and Sat and I soldier on, because it's normal and eventually I crack it. One Saturday about a month ago, I finished in 3 hours.
But that puzzle just pissed me off, I guess I don't set aside 2 hours for a Tuesday puzzle.

Sandy McCroskey 6:39 PM  

Had no idea what SAC FLY is; was assuming something entymological.

jae 7:14 PM  

*****SB Alert *****

I just hit QB, my last entry was the pangram. There were a couple of somewhat obscure words but I’d run across them before in previous SBs. Good luck!

TTrimble 7:33 PM  

---[SB Alert]---

Congrats, @jae! I'm one away. The pangram took me a surprisingly long time to see, given that it's a word I have occasion to use semi-frequently.

TJS 8:12 PM  

Sandy, assuming you are not pulling our leg : In baseball, if a man is on base and the batter hits a fly ball far enough that the runner on base can tag his base and advance after the catch to home, that is considered a SACrifice fly.
The assumption is that the batter gave himself up just to hit a fly ball far enough to score the run. But it doesn't matter what the batters' intention was. I'm buzzed. This is fun.

Rick 8:53 PM  

Count me among those done in by the NW. I finally finished it after Googling the romance novel award, but Googling always dampens my satisfaction after finishing.

Crimson Devil 10:01 PM  

Sandy & TJ
Re SAC FLY: I actually have a signed first edition of Tim Kirkjean’s Why I Love Sacrifice Flies!!

Z 10:03 PM  

Hmmm, I suppose it is how you define it, but the modern internet is most definitely a product of the 1990’s. USENET is to the internet much as a horse and buggy is to a Ford Mustang Shelby. Yeah, same general purpose but nobody mistakes the one for the other. AOL is a Model T in this comparison.

@Frantic Sloth - How’d it go?

Mickey Bell 10:11 PM  

This was a nightmare and quite unenjoyable. Thereby defeating the purpose.

JC66 10:14 PM  

@Z

Frantic did great. She finished at 398 out of 851 Locals. I came in at 466.

It was a lot of fun. Puzzle #4 was a killer...Saturday Stumper squared.

Dave S 10:23 PM  

Let me join the chorus of those killed by teh NW corner, though in the end I found it to be a difficult puzzle that was satisfying to solve. Partially just myself to blame since I had confidently written in "Indian" for 5% of population (not even close), "antsy" for anxious (hey, the last letter turned out to be right), and "hard no" for terse turndown, which is an answer I really like, but is also really wrong. When I came back to it hours later, I'd forgotten that these answers had no basis in fact and hung on to them for far too long. Then I finally got the last four letters of 17 across and knew "click" had to go before it-but where? The romance award I really should have remembered far earlier from my bookselling days, I think that's what finally made it work. I liked all the misdirects and especially liked "open a new tab" and "side a"

TTrimble 11:21 PM  

---[SB Alert]---

Yippee, QB! The last one took far longer than it should have, but I'm glad to have broken a fairly long dry spell.

Knowu 11:21 PM  

Iced up
Crossing
Rolls up to

What is this world coming to?
Why is Rex now play with this?

Robin 11:49 PM  

@Z, I have been "using" the internet since 1986, when I received my first e-mail from someone in Japan who had to know the bang path (look it up) to my university e-mail address because @ signs were not yet a thing. So yes, I have credible reason to think AOL is far from an internet pioneer.

Frantic Sloth 12:01 AM  

@Z Thanks for asking. My head is still awhirl. Didn't even finish in the top half!πŸ˜†πŸ˜†

Oh, @JC66! I didn't think to just look at the "locals" - that's much better! Thank you! How about that Mr. Agard, huh? Places 4th overall doing the downs only clues!

Dude's gotta be from Neptune. I kinda feel sorry for him, though - just what can he do for a challenge??

Anonymous 12:23 AM  

CEE makes NO SENSE to me as an answer to 'artichoke hearts?" - please, someone, explain!! Thank you in advance.

Also, Nat Sherman was almost a "gimme" b/c it was announced this week that the Nat Sherman store in Manhattan (one of the few places you can go inside & sit & smoke) is CLOSING permanently and it got a fair amount of coverage in the news.

TTrimble 4:43 AM  

@Anonymous 12:23AM (the most recent)

Every letter of the alphabet, such as C which is the middle letter or heart of "artichoke", can be spelled either as itself or according to its name, here "cee". Just as the first letter of the Greek alphabet is spelled either as its character or as "alpha" (the acceptable Scrabble word).

Xcentric 6:02 AM  

Rex’s rant was on target. Covers all my major gripes.
Tough puzzle.
Hard to get a toehold.
Couldn’t get on same wavelength as constructor.
Groans or wha? instead of ahas.
I like pushback from a puzzle, but not by clueing that is trying too hard to be “clever.”
Really clever clues are a thing of beauty, much of this puzzle was just ugly.


@anonymous 12:23 AM
ARTI. C. HOKE


LtKije 8:42 AM  

99% agree with Res today, right down to MAS and ICH. Hard HUGH instead of HERB for Alpert’s first name and finally googled it for a correction, which was enough to let me finish the puzzle organically. However I did like the clue for ARABS. Sort of an interesting puzzle. If 350 million is 5% of the world’s 7 billion population, then it can’t be a country other than maybe the US. So had to be an ethnic group. Considering there are over a billion Muslims it’s neat to realize that a majority aren’t Arabs,

Anonymous 7:54 PM  

The Big Chill did not age well. A bunch of entitled white people. Were there any POC in that movie ? Well they listened to Smokey and Aretha so I guess that counts. Racists.

goldbug 3:02 AM  

Never a good sign when 2 hours and 7 gruelling minutes later (with several reveals and a lot of checks) I'm filling in the last letter in the grid and it's 1A. And the deeply satisfying answer after all that? Two two letter words.

Some clever cluing - I liked "Not just rank" and "This might be cast in a police drama" - but way too much effort for a pretty ordinary grid.

Anonymous 10:28 AM  

I think everyday life has always been a challenge for you to overcome. Therefore, on the weekends, you should take time to relax. Looking forward to special sharing at ΰΈͺΰΈ₯็ΰΈ­ΰΈ•

davko 9:51 AM  

While I don't disagree with all of Rex's quibbles, I'm growing weary of his equating difficult completions with bad constructions. This one, for example, also gave me fits, but was delectably satisfying once solved. I've had other puzzles that may have left me shipwrecked, but I acknowledged their brilliance and took my defeat like a good sport. Rip puzzles for their bad cluing, Rex; not because they gave you a hard time!

spacecraft 11:35 AM  

Way, woefully, distantly DNF. Had siMian for the monkey and never got untracked. Not to mention a bunch of unfair clues--one of which was flat-out wrong. Has Joe never heard of a ONE-man band? With tech-heavy content, too many "that-could-be-ANYTHING" clues, and letter add-ons like SIDEA, this was impossible. HERBALPERT? Seriously?? Bah.

Anonymous 2:12 PM  

This one set the bar incredibly high for pisser infestation. Rejected with prejudice.

Burma Shave 2:14 PM  

ANY TEAMO?

At LAQUINTA you've MADEA BEHEST,
but you'll GETASHOCK who's UP 'ATBAT',
THATIS so SICK who's MADEA love NEST,
SECRET is IT'S not LOLITA, IT'S PAT!

--- IRMA LEWIS

rondo 2:28 PM  

As a former trumpet player (and vocalist), I am happy to say that HERBALPERT saved me; got it off the _ERT in the easy-ISH S and SE. He got me going in the middle then back to the NW which was toughest for me. ARCHER/NCR/OREM all gimmes up N. Surprisingly, no write-overs.

Departing from the puz, The Notorious RBG deserves an all-time yeah baby. What a career!

This is what a Sat-puz should be, IMHO.

leftcoaster 3:48 PM  

Got about 75% of the words in this puzzle. Maybe a C+ grade. Wouldn't have got me through graduate school.

Don 4:30 PM  

One of those SNL spin off movies from an androgynous character named Pat. Terrible film, but they almost always are from SNL skits.

Anonymous 8:41 PM  

I agree that this puzzle was a good Saturday contribution. It had some ahas and was a challenging solve.

Was never a fan of most of RBG's opinions but sad to see her pass. I don't think she had a mean bone in her body, and was always to the point and thorough in her rulings and dissents.

Diana, LIW 8:48 PM  

I'm with @Lefty in the 75% camp - a little cheating helped me finish up. Tough!!!

Diana, LIW

wcutler 10:49 PM  

@Maxine NerdstrΓΆm 3:27 AM
Wow, you wrote all my comments for me! My solving experience was exactly the same. I'm older than you, but never mind.
And then,
@Nick 3:52 AM, "I finished it, fair and square. Alright that's enough patting myself on the back". Yep. It took me two days, but I don't run a clock.

thefogman 2:44 PM  

It’s Thursday. Five days after I attempted the puzzle. I had to put it down several times to get “fresh eyes”. Don’t feel bad Rex about how long it took you to solve this one. It was designed to stymie. I finally finished but had to got through hell. Agree 100% with your review.

fritz 9:59 PM  

"Landscapers may find them hard to handle", I had "waxes". Like in manscaping and body waxing. It went with "won't go". Nope I did not enjoy this puzzle.

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