Judith who was second American woman in space / SAT 11-21-20 / Annual mass event in Nevada's Black Rock Desert / Machine in particle physics lab in brief / 3x platinum Kendrick Lamar song with the lyric I was born like this / Longtime locale of Mideast conflict / Composer whose name is one letter off from an international peace grp / Ally of Britain during the Seven Years War / 1980s cable competitor of CMT

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Constructor: Sam Ezersky

Relative difficulty: Medium (untimed)

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: LINAC (10D: Machine in a particle physics lab, in brief) —

linear particle accelerator (often shortened to linac) is a type of particle accelerator that accelerates charged subatomic particles or ions to a high speed by subjecting them to a series of oscillating electric potentials along a linear beamline. The principles for such machines were proposed by Gustav Ising in 1924, while the first machine that worked was constructed by Rolf Widerøe in 1928 at the RWTH Aachen University. Linacs have many applications: they generate X-rays and high energy electrons for medicinal purposes in radiation therapy, serve as particle injectors for higher-energy accelerators, and are used directly to achieve the highest kinetic energy for light particles (electrons and positrons) for particle physics.

The design of a linac depends on the type of particle that is being accelerated: electronsprotons or ions. Linacs range in size from a cathode ray tube (which is a type of linac) to the 3.2-kilometre-long (2.0 mi) linac at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Menlo Park, California. (wikipedia)

• • •

This felt very Saturday-y. Struggle struggle progress struggle progress progress progress late struggle finish. As happens so often for me, the NW was the toughest place for me to get traction, and a total dud the first time around. First thing in the grid: "HAKUNA / MATATA," which was a guess, but an ... I want to say "educated" one, but in context that hardly sounds right. Or ... I guess my ears have been "educated" enough to allow me to "guess" that answer, so OK. Educated guess. It was a song from that movie, and since "CAN YOU FEEL / THE LOVE TONIGHT?" didn't fit, I went for "HAKUNA / MATATA," and then immediately checked some of the short crosses to see if I could confirm its rightness. ASP and NUM told me I was probably correct, and I loped along from there. Actually, "HAKUNA / MATATA" wasn't the first thing in the grid, just the first correct thing. I wanted INCH and ARCH at 6D: Part of a foot (HEEL) before realizing there were way too many possibilities to blindly guess there. I also wanted LIEU (duh) at 1D: In ___ of (WANT), which is one of two deliberate fill-in-the-blank traps in the puzzle (see also 14D: ___-fi, which is somehow not SCI-) (SPY-). This is an incredibly cheap way to add difficulty to a solve and thanks but no thanks I always hate it. Ambiguity of a sort is fine, but when you suggest a very common thing but then provide a super-uncommon thing, in what purports to be a common phrase (common enough to be a fill-in-the-blank), then that is cheap. You can do Extremely Difficult without doing cheap. Come on. Anyway, my first real foray into the grid was in the SE, off of "MATATA," as my total-stab guess of THE (ugh) SINAI ended up being right, and then the GOTHS and the POET collaborated to help me sew up that corner in no time.

ERGO in the SE gave me a Huge assist in the NE—or maybe I wouldn't have needed the ERGO-backwards tip to get OGRE, I dunno. The clue is pretty transparent (12D: Despotic boss). I just know that the "G" helped me get RING UP and then that corner was done quickly despite my having no idea re: LINAC. The late struggle came in and around GIBBS (ugh, whyyyyyy? who watches "NCIS"!?!?! I know, millions of people, but still, ugh) (23D: Lead agent on "NCIS"). Also IBMPC, which, yuck. We just call it a PC. IBMPC crossing BTU next to INAKIT next to ECIG was yikesawful. I had ARMENIA (!) before PRUSSIA at one point at 40A: Ally of Britain during the Seven Years' War. I also misread 3D: Bill and Hillary Clinton have each won one as something like "each have one" and even with IOWA I couldn't figure out the next word. I thought maybe they collected something or had some pets from IOWA? An IOWA CHICKEN or something. Who knows what these people are into? So that western section was full of stumbles for me. 

Really liked:
  • "WEIRD, HUH?"
Could've done without:
  • URSAE 
  • TNN
  • ENESCO (old-school crosswordese with a name that can be spelled two ways, -CO or -CU)
OK, now realizing that my actual actual actual first thing in the grid that was correct was T-MAN, who just sat there by his lonesome until I came back to rescue him toward the end. T-MAN could've been NESS, I guess, but sometimes your crosswordese-fluent brain guesses right (19A: Bootlegger's foe).

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Joaquin 6:54 AM  

What? I had to work this hard to find out that mouthwash contains ALOE VERA? I think I need a DOOBIE.

[Just checked the stuff I use - the mouthwash, not the doobie. It’s mostly water and alcohol; no aloe vera.]

BarbieBarbie 7:11 AM  

Similar experience to @Rex except that I filled in (after TMAN) CIRCLE/OFLIFE. Which completely stopped everything. Or anyway, enhanced the struggle. At least BURNINGMAN was a gimme. Fun Saturday!

It’s “in lieu of” and “for WANT of.” Edit Fail.

linac800 7:21 AM  

Good Morning All!

Well golly gee - it's not every day that you find your (partial) identity as an answer in a tough Saturday NYTXW! So you all are going to have to forgive me if I wax prosaically a little about a life ill-spent. Linac800 is indeed linac as in 10D, and 800 as in 800 MeV (Mega-electron-volts), the proton energy of the first high-powered megawatt-class 800-meter long proton linear accelerator built in the late 1960's and commissioned in 1972 in the beautiful mountains of New Mexico. Known then as LAMPF - the Los Alamos Meson Physics Facility.

In 1974 I cut my teeth on Cockcroft-Walton number 2 - the second 1 MV electrostatic machine ever built - as an undergraduate in South Africa. Moved on to a pressurized vertical single-ended machine and a 6 MV EN tandem, before moving to the US for graduate school, where I moved up to an 8 MV FN tandem machine. Couldn't make it work at 10 MV (got to 9.8) to do my thesis experiment in nuclear physics, so headed out to Los Alamos in 1980 to do 2 experiments on the LAMPF machine to escape from grad school. One thing led to another, and I spent 28 years in Los Alamos, eventually heading up operation of that grand machine that will celebrate it's 50th birthday in a couple of years. Still doing great physics. These machines can live forever if you take good care of them.

Moved to the next generation machine at Oak Ridge National Lab in 2010 and had the privilege over 8 years of getting that 1000 MeV machine up to it's design power of 1.4 MW to make neutrons for material science. Retired for about 18 months, and then joined a new facility under construction in Sweden where we are building the next generation neutron source for material science - a linac (2000 MeV) that will deliver 5 Megawatts of proton beam on to a tungsten target to make the neutrons to do the material science.

If I can stick it out to 2025, I'll have had the privilege of operating the world's inventory of megawatt-class proton linear machines! It's been a lot of fun (on average) over the years.

The puz was pretty tough for me. Very few toe-holds on the first pass but chipped away here an there until some of the long answers fell into place - Burning Man for one... Got lucky with Prussia. Well over my average time but a lot of fun nevertheless.

Peace to all...

Megafrim 7:34 AM  

I never know whether to go with T-Man or G-Man, but this was also my ingress. From there I popped in Senate Race for the Clinton thing. Yeah, I know. Oops. But then I got Hakuna Matata and it was all smooth sailing.

JRB 7:54 AM  

"In WANT of" is OK. e.g. Most Americans have been in Want of a new president.

Lewis 7:56 AM  

Oh, I loved this. This was a battle royale for me, a test of my mettle. I look around the grid, and aside from LINAC, URSAE, and GIBBS, it’s all common words in my vocabulary. And yet, and yet… I was in mortal battle for so many squares, and the reason was mostly Sam’s skilled cluing – clever clues, such as [1, 2, 3, 4 … 11, 12, 14, etc.] for FLOORS and [Times table?] for NEWS DESK, vague clues like [Modern health risk, informally] for ECIG, and just plain tricky ones, such as [Closers of some boxes] for TABS.

There were little gifts here, like ONE TO TEN which felt to me connected to that “radio countdown” in the TOP HIT clue, and, in the SW corner, AND joining a backwards AND.

But mostly it was the fight for real estate, the struggles and victories – what I live for in crosswords – that made this solve memorable and satisfying. Your puzzle shined, Sam. It was a credit to the art of constructing. Above all, it gave me great pleasure. Thank you so much!

Z 7:59 AM  

Jesus Rex. Of the entire DOOBIE Brothers catalog you pick that song to feature?

I had that arched side eye “it’s going to be ALOE VERA isn’t it” feeling, but it didn’t really help much. I just checked and my mouthwash contains coffee. Hand up for thinking of Circle of Life, but I went, “Nah, too cloying” and threw down HAKUNA MATATA. Yay me. That gave me the N in ENESCO and the “one letter off” in the clue resolved the ENESCO ENESCu conundrum. I didn’t really remember the Shakespeare quote, but Cleo’s ASP seemed like a reasonable three letter guess. Other than LINAC the east fell easily. I did waste a couple of nanoseconds pondering the possibility of miniature LAUREtTES but I figured LINAC may somehow be related to our old computer friend ENIAC.

My biggest slow down in the SW was ASTROBOY. I know of ASTROBOY but somehow don’t have him filed under early anime. Having NO LeSS didn’t help. The A in MACABRE then fixing that E was where I actually finished. As for the NW, I thought the WEIRD, HUH? was metacommentary on the ALOE VERA clue. That clue has a “23rd paragraph of the wikipedia article” feel to it. As for the “Topic in artificial intelligence” clue - I thought the issue would be Do IBM PCs smoke ECIGs? Just me?

Z 8:06 AM  

If you answered my question, “No, but they dream of electric sheep,” I like you.

Wit 8:09 AM  

This was a medium-hard for me. Struggled to get a toehold. I should have seen HAKUNA MATADA (great answer and lovely to see a marquee split with such nice symmetry), but I had skipped to the SE. BURNINGMAN is where I got my boost).

The marquees are all quite nice. Love IOWACAUCS (took me a while to get there). I somehow guessed ASTROBOY (never heard of it) with just the B and Y. ENESCO/U is annoying crosswordese - at least the O was unambiguous with the cross. I was a pretty avid astronomer decades ago, and URSAE should have been easy (it wasn't). Kept wanting something polaris related.

Technical foul for "THE" SINAI.

@linac800 - that's a wonderful story. I was obsessed with physics as a lad. I begged my dad to take me to Fermilab when it was still fairly new and he was briefly living in Chicago. I got my BA in physics, but the cold war ended, defense spending plummeted and the super collider was cancelled (would have been about 40 miles from my home). One of my classmates got a well-paying job in technology. I self-studied the C programming language for a couple of months, and that was all she wrote for my physics career. I'm jealous of your experience. It's amazing how many potential physicists from that era are working in technology or on Wall Street as quants.

Wit 8:10 AM  

Forgot to mention that LINAC is a debut in the NYT crossword.

CDilly52 8:17 AM  

@linac800 7:21 am - Fascinating professional possibility! I visited CERN during one of my stints working in Europe. Science so far above my head, but very impressive nonetheless. Hope you can stick it out!!

bocamp 8:27 AM  

@Sam, the kind of Sat. puz I really appreciate; full of tough clues/answers. A real challenge which, I'm happy to say, resulted in a win for both of us. Thx, for this jewel! :)

Got no hold whatsoever in the NW, so put in "asp" at 27A, which gave me the "p" for 9D "free spirit". Was also able to get "Hakuna Matata", "Enesco", "shortstop" "atom bomb" and "Burning Man" without crosses, but still came in at 10 min. over av. Sat. time. So, not on Sam's wavelength, but still found it to be a rewarding solve. Just very unusual to get that many of the longs, and still be so slow on the rest.

Write-overs: 1D "lieu" (spidey said, "that's too easy for a Sat." Spidey was right!; 3D "-----award" which at least gave me 25A "in a kit"; 19A "tmen"; 45D "Matada".

Serendipitous: 56D "obit" led to getting the first letter of 12D "ogre", which then filled in 55A "ergo".

New: "TNN" (as clued); "Astro Boy"; "Gibbs"; "Ursae"; "re-spin" (as clued); "pine nut" (as clued); "DNA" (as clued).

Hazy: "Iowa caucus"; "Resnik; "Linac".

Fav. clued/answers: "weird huh"; "floors"; "news desk"; "top hit"; "rag tag"; "doobie"; "A student"; "spy"; "IBM pc"; "poet".

Sp: "Enesco" / "Enescu"

??tabs??: was thinking computers; but maybe cardboard boxes with those tabs that are so hard to pull out without ruining the box (and/or causing bodily injury)??

Add "pine nuts" to my snack mix (sparingly; they're extremely expensive).

What A Wonderful World - Sam Cooke

Now, I don't claim to be an "A student"
But I'm trying to be
For maybe by being an "A student", baby
I can win your love for me

"Hakuna Matata" | The Lion King

Peace Amani Salam Gawairþi Pace Pax Frieden 🕊

ow a paper cut 8:32 AM  

I love clues about science and baseball.

barryevans 8:45 AM  

Thanks linac800 for your trip down memory linac. I got it right away having spent a few hours 30 years ago admiring SLAC (the "S" is Stanford), the linear accelerator that runs UNDER I-280. Beautiful machine. Hadn't a clue re the song, googled Matuna Matata (potato?)...

CDilly52 8:55 AM  

Any time I see Sam Ezersky’s byline, I know to put on more coffee and gear up for a tough solve. He is the master of clever clues and I fell into nearly every darn trap he set, simply because once my addled fuzzy morning brain hit on the “obvious” answer, the little guy up between my ears who rummages through my large crossword “dictionary” built from 60 years of solves just didn’t want to budge. Worthless little scamp. I guess he needed the coffee as desperately as the rest of me this morning.

My first successful wild guesses were WEIRD HUH and DOOBIE (I am of that era). Those were the only answers in the entire NW forever! I caught on to the FLOORS clue early on. Found the entire NE half actually easy (for an Ezersky), and managed that at decent steady pace.

When I returned to the W, had more coffee, and saw SHORTSTOP, that gave me a start, but also led me to correct what for SOON, and sell for HOLD (told you all that I fell into every trap). Those gave me courage to think ASTROBOY might be correct (absolutely unfamiliar with anime), and there was the little SW corner done and dusted.

Overall, the NE half and the little corner in the SW, took me normal (and certainly not speedy) Saturday time, but the remainder of the entire west half was just trial and (mostly) error.

Perseverance won the day and I learned what a TURING TEST is. A new word or phrase is always a big bonus. Wonderful Saturday offering. Kudos Mr. E!

ChuckD 8:59 AM  

Rough go for me today - some stuff had to be worked and backed into. Actually got the sparkly WEIRD HUH right away - but then a side eye to ALOE VERA and the self important NEWS DESK. Favorite was the TURING TEST x SHORTSTOP cross - made a lot of headway just filling those in. Didn’t know ASTRO BOY and the BURNING MAN is always an outlier for me. IBM PC and IN A KIT just seem flat and there for convenience.

@linac800 - seems like a working life well lived. I worked on the RHIC at Brookhaven for a very short time in the early 80s - I realized very quickly that life wasn’t for me. Good luck going forward.

This was a nice Saturday - tough but enjoyable.

CDilly52 8:59 AM  

Good one, @Z! I will forever think of the computer at home when I put it into “sleep” mode counting little electronic sheep!

CDilly52 9:02 AM  

@Wit 8:09 am. I got to visit Fermilab during the period when my sister lived in Batavia. That and my visit to CERN, while working for a bit in Europe were extraordinary opportunities!

OffTheGrid 9:09 AM  

I was, like many, initially frustrated. It just got better and better, though. Took me an hour, which is typical for Sat. It was fun difficulty for the most part. I did think having one clue be the backward spelling of another answer is quite lame. Small nit in a very good puzzle.

Anonymous 9:27 AM  

I shudder when I see Sam Ezersky's name. I am rarely on the same wave length and the amount of obscure trivia in this, the way it is clued and some of the answers, just make it a joyless slog. By the end, I didn't care if I finished. In fact, I can honestly say I have never felt so annoyed at a puzzle before. ERGO is the reverse of OGRE. OK. I had never thought of that. I would also never refer to a boss as an ogre, nor does anyone else I know. URSAE? LINAC? Why ask about model airplane parts as opposed to just the model airplane? It reminds me of a scene in Wordplay where a constructor checked a dictionary to make sure one of the answers in his puzzle was actually a word. I've never constructed a puzzle before, but if that's what you have to resort to, it seems to me there is a problem. So, when your clues run from Kendrick Lamar, whom I have heard of, but never listen to, to ENESCO, whom I have never heard of and also never listened to, to the second, not the first, American woman in space, to a frickin PINENUT (as if that is a normal ingredient in couscous), I am left incredulous. Why not ask for an ingredient in pesto? That's too obvious?

Anonymous 9:29 AM  

I can't believe some people refer to these clues as 'clever'. Unfair is more like it.

Rique Beleza 9:30 AM  

I was there in 1981, freshman in college, and they most definitely called them IBM PC’s.

Sixthstone 9:35 AM  

Not an enjoyable solve for me, which is sad because the grid has some really nice answers. But the joy was sapped every few minutes with a pull-the-rug-out-from-under-you clue (SPY-FI, in WANT of), an off-kilter clue (what's more = ANOTHER ONE?), weak phrase fill (INAKIT, BEAUTS, RESPIN, TOPHIT, THESINAI ugh), and the inexcusable crossing of URSAE, ENESCO, and LINAC. At least we got a DOOBIE out of the deal.

Newboy 9:40 AM  

Sam’s da man! Wow this was a struggle for 85% of the solve. @Lewis said it well already, but this was a puzzle worthy of remembrance, as was the “Iron Man” of 52A. Never a big baseball follower, but certainly recall those SHORTSTOPS. Uncle wiki says, “ Ripken holds the record for consecutive games played, 2,632, surpassing Lou Gehrig's streak of 2,130 that had stood for 56 years and that many deemed unbreakable.” 56 years seems about right for my expected solve time for a Sam Ezersky grid. Much of my slowdown came from not reading the clues carefully as I know I should—9A with its missing 13 should have been a toehold gimme. And NUM sitting in the bullseye as an extra little prompt had I been the A STUDENT i aspire to be...sigh, and sing along with me....”Don’t know much about fill in the blanks?”

So much to like here and the more I reflect, the better it gets! Thanks for a real Saturday Saturday.

Hungry Mother 9:40 AM  

Not being able to fill-in BEA_TS correctly was my main downfall. I thought BEAsTS would work, but then the Old Testament book didn’t make sense. Getting the rest of it was a long, long slog.

GILL I. 9:43 AM  

The only DOOBIE I know is Frank Sinatra's Dooby Doo. If my mouthwash contained ALOE VERA, I'd put in on my warts. If I had a CYST growing on any of my body parts I would sure as hell call the surgery vital and yeah, I fell for the LIEU/SCI .....So....how did I DO?
Let me start with the Roombas. As @chefwen likes to say..." I have one gathering dust in my closet." My only entry for a looooong time was BURNING MAN because that's the only thing Nevada is known for. I then moved on to Elton and "The Lion King" and remembered HAKUNA MATATA. ERGO the OGRE and the smoke began too clear.
My couscous has feta cheese and garbanzo beans. I guess you can put PINE NUTS in as well. So may guesses, so little time. I cheated on GIBBS and LINAC but I got MACABRE and ATOM BOMB without so much as a flinch. I was proud to know that Ripken and Pee Wee were SHORT STOPS since I know squat about baseball and that PRUSSIA was a Brit ally.
So BUB is is a condescending term? Doesn't Wolverine call a bunch of people BUB? I thought it was a pet name every southerner called his brother.....Or am I thinking Bubba......

Ben 9:46 AM  

Ugh, this was a bear for no good reason. I have a Masters degree in music from a top conservatory and have never heard of ENESCO.

Also, putting proper names RESNIK and GIBBS next to each other was cruel, especially since I had INASET rather than INAKIT and had no idea what they were looking for with ECIG.

And what on earth is SPY-fi??? Ugh.

Neal 9:53 AM  

The answer NIH is bad. The impetus for HGP and initial funding was DOE.

pabloinnh 9:53 AM  

Among other swings and misses/erasures/bad ideas:



And so it went. Never did come up with the proper Judith, which is my wife's name.

OK, Sam. Uncle.

Anonymous 9:56 AM  

I think URSAE and ENESCO is kind of an unfair cross. You can sort of intuit the "E," but it's far from given.

Nancy 9:59 AM  

This was what I call a "keep the faith" puzzle. As in, when the entire left side is completely blank and you can't fill in anything at all, go over to the East, try to fill in something, anything over there, and have faith that it will do enough good to enable you to solve eventually.

That turned out to be true, but not without some "checks". I consider the difference between a cheat and a check as similar to the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor. I am always, always trying to avoid out and out cheats. So here were my misdemeanors today:

*I checked that Numbers came after Deuteronomy (it does).

*I knew it was that lion song with the WEIRD HUH title from The Lion King. I remembered MATATA, but had a Senior Moment in forgetting the first word. So instead of actually Googling the song, I typed in MATATA and out came HAKUNA. (Are you beginning to see the cheat v. check distinction?)

It looked as though the titular android was going to be some kind of BOY and it looked as though the platinum song would be DNA. That would give me DOOBIE. Never heard of DOOBIE. Was DOOBIE the kind of "joint" one smokes? I typed in DOOBIE and out came "joint". (Now you've got the hang of it -- right?)

*Finally, I typed in "musician UNESCO" and out came ENESCO. Perfect!!! Mission accomplished!

And thus I "finished" this puzzle with no real cheats, but with four checks. I may be sent to jail for my misdemeanors, but probably only overnight. An almost impossibly difficult puzzle, I'm thinking.

Giovanni 10:00 AM  

This was hard but I finished in 2 hours 1 minute. I was stuck in the NW and Midwest sections so I went to bed. I woke up at 4am and looked at it. I went back to sleep and Judith RESNIK popped into my head. That was the toehold I need to finish this thing and I finished it anbout 4:45 AM in my sleep!
I saw the Challenger documentary on Netflix recently, so I knew about Judith but I could not remember her last name.

I had IN SETS forever, it was one of those things you are positive is correct and it is very wrong. Then I had IN KITS- again wrong. I had LIEU of course, but I knew it was NEWSDESK. It was a big mess to say the least.

Ah the IBM PC! I was hired in 1985 at the Italian Trade Commission to set up 2 10 megabyte IBM PCs for our office (I think they were megabyte- I know it was 10 something for the size)
I was not easy to set these things up. You turned it on and nothing. A year later we were very excited because a 20 megabyte one.

PINENUT, which is a nut, but it's also the name of a town. Peanut, Hazelnut, Cashew nut, Macadamia nut. Harlan Pepper! Would you stop naming nuts! Red pistachio nut, natural, all natural white pistachio nut.

TJS 10:01 AM  

I loved all one hour and 8 minutes of this awesome puzzle from a great constructor. I would say at least thirty of those minutes were spent on the North and Mid West. With only "hakuna" in place and having a total memory fail on "Gibbs" of all things, I just stared blankly. Now that I look at it, I only had shortstop and ragtag in the South west also. I am ashamed at failing to come up with "doobie" and "beauts" gave me "Algeria" for a British ally. "gibbs" finally came out of nowhere and gave me "Prussia".

I think I needed all 60 years of puzzling to finish this thing off and now I can finally make breakfast. Thank you, Sam. And even Will.

kitshef 10:01 AM  

copy DESK before NEWS DESK, ness and gMAN before TMAN as A seT before IN A KIT ,warT before CYST, xxxxx Award before IOWA CAUCUS … as you can tell, that NW gave me a lot of problems.

Is there a crossworthy GIBBS? [Assuming we agree that this one is not] First that comes to mind is Joe … but not sure how famous he is outside the DC area. One option is to pluralize, e.g. ‘musicians Andy and Maurice’.

Odd puzzle. A mix of lovely stuff like PINE NUT, LAUREATES, MACABRE, TURING TEST, with … less lovely stuff like ONE TO TEN, PREBID, RESPIN, GIBBS.

TTrimble 10:17 AM  

Ugh. Brutal. Absolutely brutal. A terrible way to start the day. (And now I find it's by Sam Ezersky. Yup, sounds about right. I'm starting to hate that guy. His stupid Spelling Bee which I still do, ritually, God help me, and which I will turn to after submitting this comment.)

It's my own damn fault that I put in kAhUNA MATATA and then struggled forever. Oh, and then I really floundered around Deuteronomy. I knew that was one of the first five books, and because of deut- = second, put in "Gen" and then thought, wait, Exodus comes after Genesis, put in "Exo", then thought, no, Leviticus comes after Exodus, put in "Lev", ...

Agree with Rex about THE ("the") SINAI. IN A KIT, blech. Reminds me of what so often irritates me about Wheel of Fortune answers. Don't know about this GIBBS character, nor about ENESCO which had to be guessed from the most plausible Latinate ending for what turned out to be URSAE. Which incidentally I had the hardest time with, 'cause "Canis" kept intruding upon my consciousness. For some odd reason I thought the North Star and the Dog Star and Sirius were all one and the same.

I had started last night but really couldn't gain a purchase at all, so put it away in disgust for the morn, when I decided e.g. that "GaulS" instead of GOTHS couldn't be right. ATOM BOMB was a guess. (And here I was thinking "cosmological constant?" -- just more of the stupid flotsam and jetsam taking up rent space in my head.) Once the NW was cracked I was essentially done, but that corner murdered me. Tried "Wisteria" instead of ALOE VERA and indeed could swear I've seen Wisteria something or other listed as a mouthwash ingredient somewhere, and never ALOE VERA, but I shamefacedly bow to what you say, Sam.

For me, hardest puzzle in many a moon. Solve time was a horror show. "Medium difficulty", bah.

mathgent 10:17 AM  

Not good. @Sixthstone (9:30) put it very well. Some good stuff but a lot of cheap tricks.

“In WANT of” was the worst. Purposely prompting us to fill in a wrong answer, LIEU or CASE.

BobL 10:19 AM  

Her nibs, Miss Georgia Gibbs - but that is very old

RooMonster 10:22 AM  

Hey All !
The ole brain let out a "Yikes!" after the first pass through the Acrosses yielded absolutely nothing. On the Downs, put in NOBELPRIZE for 3D, thinking how clever I am. Then naturally put SCI in for SPY (is that even a thing? C'mon, now). Got a few more answers sprinkled here and there, and then... nothing else happening. Brain freeze? Ridiculously tough puz? Eyes were getting sore from looking at all that white. So then...
Check puzzle! It crossed out my NOBELPRIZE, and basically everything else except ASIDE. Holy moly! (Well, the O in 3D and the S of 14D remained.) So, naturally went to Google! Check, cheat, check, cheat. Finally got a toe hold in the NE. Then put in BURNINGMAN on faith, in which I hit Check Puzzle again. Thankfully, that was the last help I needed. Solve then went SE, sort-of middle W, sort-of NW, then back and forth twixt those two. Finished up in SW, which in retrospect, seemed the easiest area!

So I hope all you hard-puz-wanters got your fill! My brain hurts! :-)

25D, IBMPC, at first I put in SHAMU!! Har. 1981 seems close to the correct year he was born, no? Then thought of ENIAC, but that was way earlier than '81. Got a chuckle out of myself for having __US_IA for 40A, and saying, "A RUSSIA? What's that?" Boy-BUB about my only writeover, although I did have THIRDBASE for SHORTSTOP first, wondering where the MEN went!

So a toughie today for me. I truly believe it's psychological. And, (here comes a Rex excuse!) I woke up later than I like, so felt rushed to finish puz. That's my story...

One F

kitshef 10:23 AM  

PS If I wrote the blog, my musical choice today would have been ASTROBOY (and the Proles on Parade) by the Buggles.

Teresa 10:25 AM  

@Ben, I'm afraid that's more a reflection of your major conservatory than of Enesco's purported obscurity. I can't believe that in all those years you never met Eugene Enesco. Romanian composer. Granted, he's not famous for much but he's in the standard repertoire, say I with my lowly BA in music from a (pardon the pun) minor university.

I agree with those who found the cluing more stingy/cheap/far-fetched than clever, but I managed to enjoy it.

Nancy 10:31 AM  

Oh, dear. I just finished reading @Lewis and I see that I had a DNF. One involving four different answers! And after all that work. Sigh.

Having looked up "Roombas" (yes, I forgot to mention that) to see what they were and after seeing that they were robotic vacuums, I decided that their biggest challenges would be PIGS. Which went perfectly with the "I" from RING in (instead of RING UP) and the P from F LOOpS. That gave me SNY-fi at 14D, but what the hell? Science Fiction set in NY?

Why did I have F LOOPS? Why not? The numbers in 9A looked for all the world like some sort of mathematical sequence that I never heard of. I never once thought of FLOORS.

And thus my friends -- an ignominious crash and burn even after 4 "checks". Which turns out to be 4 checks and one quasi-cheat: looking up Roomba.

Steve M 10:34 AM  

Nope-too much pop culture and very vague valuing so this is just for the crossword in crowd

Teedmn 10:47 AM  

This was astonishingly hard for me today, nearly double my Saturday average. I *knew* the crossreferenced clues were probably that stupid song (stupid only because I've never seen the movie and I can never remember its name) from the Lion King. Like @Nancy, I could only come up with the MATATA part and needed the crosses for HAKUNA.

I Casco-ed my way through this. It was hard to see ONE TO TEN when I had jABS as "Closers of some boxes". 25A's as A KIT was no help with IBM PC. I should have guessed that one sooner. In the early to mid-80's, right out of college, I was a buyer for a transformer manufacturer. Our biggest customer was IBM. We were making transformers for their mainframes. We had a huge contract for a single size transformer. By 1986 when I left the company, the PC had taken so much of the business from mainframes that I heard IBM accepted all of the transformers per contract and then threw them away. Considering how much leadwire, steel, copper wire, connectors and nasty varnish was in those things, I wonder how IBM disposed of them.

I call foul on the clue for 35A. Couscous is a grain. You can make a dish using couscous, but it is not "couscous". So I kept trying for something like "grainlet" for a couscous tidbit. PINE NUT, hmmm.

I loved the clue for FLOORS. It took me a moment to notice the missing 13. Nice!

Thanks, Sam, you got me (again.)

Jaheim 10:50 AM  

Anyone else notice how many three-letter derogatory addresses there are for men? As I filled in crosses, SON became BOY became BUD became BUB. Does this say something about male-male communication or am I reading too much into it?

Joe Dipinto 10:51 AM  

Marla Gibbs, a/k/a Florence on "The Jeffersons"

Joe Dipinto 10:56 AM  

Terri Gibbs

Rube 11:07 AM  

So do I, but 20pct of ripkens games were at 3B. So, many better choices such as Jeter, Harrelson, Aparicio, Oz smith, and on and on. Because of Ripken, I hesitated at putting in shortstop

Elaine2 11:12 AM  

I really enjoyed this puzzle, except for one thing: couscous is a grain product. It does not have any pine nuts! Tabouli is a salad, made from couscous and other things, one of which is pine nuts. So, bad clue.

(Even if you use "couscous" as synonymous with "dish made with couscous" there are many such that are pinenut free.)

Z 11:12 AM  

Noticing the chasm of Wheelhouse v Outhouse comments I thought it might be informative to take a look at the PPP. Yep, it’s high.

PPP Analysis
PPP are Pop Culture, Product Names, and Other Proper Nouns. Anything over 33% results in some subset of solvers to struggle while another subset often finds the puzzle unusually easy.

24 of 68 for 35%.

The List

NEWS DESK (“Times” clue)
ENESCO (and Enescu is one of the most popular composers in Crossworld. Remember this name)
ASP (Shakespeare clue)
SHORTSTOP (Ripken/Reese clue)
ATOM BOMB (Einstein clue)

Alpha URSAE Minoris
RUGS (Roomba clue)
Leroy Jethro GIBBS (@kitshef - 17 years, the last 11 in the top 5, the worst season had 3x the viewers of The Wire - far more crossworthy than any character from that overrated show. If I want stories about morally ambiguous police I’ll just watch the news)
DNA (Kendrick Lamar clue)
I have never tracked this, but 6 of the 24 getting their PPP status from their clues seems high. Going Shakespeare for ASP and using capital letter ambiguity for “Times” are right on the tipping point between “clever” and “annoying.” Going Kendrick Lamar for a DNA clue, Roomba for a RUGS clue, and Einstein for ATOM BOMB all seem over that line to me. This one fell in my wheelhouse, but the “excessive trivia” complaints have merit.

Frantic Sloth 11:22 AM  

Well, this was a hop around/catch-as-catch-can adventure, which you might think mirrors my thought process in general - and I guess it does - but that just means like magnets, the two just repelled each other. My typical convoluted and verbose way of saying Ay, Chihuahua! (Hi, @GILL!)

This was chew-toy chewy for me - it took forever to make a dent and then it still seemed utterly indestructible.

Plus I thought I had a Natick at 9A/10D because:
1. my particle physics lab was at the cleaners, and
2. You know, numbers and mathiness

But, then I realized I had a typo at 13D (lUGS instead of RUGS - and no idea where that even came from!), so it worked itself out...good thing because FLOOlS??
So mathiness turned out to be just plain numbers hiding in the bushes of an arithmophobe's brain. *sigh*

Funnily enough, when I first saw the clue for 9A, my immediate reaction was "hotel FLOORS", but did I think to shorten it to just FLOORS? Of course not.

Not-so-fun-fact: "infielder" has the same amount of letters as SHORTSTOP 😕

Not-so-fun WTF: ALOEVERA is in mouthwash???

Idle Ponderment: I can't hear the word BUB without thinking of the Cub Room scene in All About Eve.
(Margo hails a passing captain.)

MARGO: Encore du champagne.

CAPTAIN: More champagne, Miss Channing?

MARGO: That's what I said, BUB.

By far, not the most famous line in the movie, but when you've seen it eleventy-bazillion times, every line is quotable. 😉

Don't get me wrong - there was a lot to love about this puzzle - WEIRDHUH, TURINGTEST, IOWACAUCUS, DOOBIE, etc. -- and lots of yummy longs!
Really liked the cluing for NEWSDESK and ASTUDENT, too.

After reviewing the puzzle post-solve, it didn't seem quite so difficult - 20/20 hindsight and all that - so I'ma chalk my difficulties up to wavelength antipathy, and you can't stop me. So there. 😜


Whatsername 11:24 AM  

Very much a struggle but I cheat shamelessly on Saturday because I know my limitations. Had no idea mouthwash contains ALOE VERA. WEIRD HUH? I loved starting off with that at 1A although it didn’t come easily because I started out with in LIEU of, then in VIEW of at 1D. I agree with someone else who said for WANT of sounds more natural. But that whole NW corner when I finally got it done was outstanding. Some pretty impressive fill in general today actually.

They say one of the reasons that Kansas City QB Patrick Mahomes can scramble and throw the BOMB so accurately is that he played SHORTSTOP in high school and college. Well that plus the fact that he grew up around professional baseball and is just a natural born athlete and all-around good STUDENT. He has broken all sorts of records already but I’d love to see his career include a season with NO LOSS.

jberg 11:26 AM  

@kitshef—Lois GIBBS of Love Canal, if that wasn’t too long ago.

johnk 11:26 AM  

A CYST is a nonvital surgery target? It is often so, depending on where it's located. But this "nonvital" message just promulgates misinformation that leads people to shrug when they hear about it.
My daughter had a pituitary cyst that led to a tumor, even after the cyst was removed. She is now in constant pain and disabled in many ways, all due to hormonal chaos. Because this country lacks an actual health care system, she cannot get another surgery. What is nonvital about that?
There are so many nonvital clues that could have been used.

bocamp 11:27 AM  

First thought, "lieu" and "sci"; second thought, knowing @Sam and being a Sat. puz, was pretty sure neither would hold.

@linac800 7:21 AM

Brilliant! Won't be forgetting "linac" soon; thx for sharing. :)

@Giovanni 10:00 AM

In your sleep … priceless! :) That often happens to me (not necessarily with crosswords) but with forgotten things in general. I'll invoke Siri and ask to be reminded in the morning to verify my sleepy discovery.

@RooMonster 10:22 AM

Too funny; thought of Shamu too.

@Nancy 10:31 AM

I had a hearty laugh; I'll be having visions of Roombas battling pigs all day. :)

y.d. -1 (not done yet:) - t.d. p.g. -1

Peace Amani Salam Gawairþi Pace Pax Frieden 🕊

Masked and Anonymous 11:28 AM  

M&A is plum NUM. Tough SatPuz, as usual, at our house. Put up a fight, leadin with punches to the nanoseconds like: the LINAC/ENESCO/HAKUNA crossins and the RESNIK-GIBBS-TURINGTEST-ASTROBOY waterfall.

staff weeject pick: SPY-fi. As @RP said, quite an ambush, there. Escaped, but overturned furniture was involved.

Started the puz like @RP, with a lonely TMAN followed by a desperate @Nancy-like shift to the east, to ring up RINGUP/OGRE. The rest of the solvequest is a sorta blur of PINENUTs & URSAEs and whatnut.


Thanx for the non-EZ fun, EZersky dude. It gave quite a HIT to M&A's TOP.

Masked & Anonymo9Us


The Bard 11:31 AM  

Antony and Cleopatra, Act V, scene II

CLEOPATRA: This proves me base:
If she first meet the curled Antony,
He'll make demand of her, and spend that kiss
Which is my heaven to have. Come, thou
mortal wretch,

[To an asp, which she applies to her breast]

With thy sharp teeth this knot intrinsicate
Of life at once untie: poor venomous fool
Be angry, and dispatch. O, couldst thou speak,
That I might hear thee call great Caesar ass

CHARMIAN: O eastern star!

CLEOPATRA: Peace, peace!
Dost thou not see my baby at my breast,
That sucks the nurse asleep?

CHARMIAN: O, break! O, break!

CLEOPATRA: As sweet as balm, as soft as air, as gentle,--
O Antony!--Nay, I will take thee too.

[Applying another asp to her arm]

What should I stay--


jberg 11:42 AM  

Like @Nancy, I thought I’d licked this one only to come here and learn it licked me. I figured the health risk was ECoL — dumb abbreviation for e-Volo, I should have known better, and had no notion of the two proper names. Fortunately, I caught the error with ASs instead of ASP (think of Bottom in Midsummer Night’s Dream) and HEEL corrected medalistS at 20A.

Is there a sci-fi movie with ANDY the ET? Or a TolKien story featuring A STUD ENT? I wish there was!

It’s always fun to see how many haven’t a clue about accelerators, and how many have personal experience of them. Cf. C. P. Snow.

GHarris 11:54 AM  

Given his agonizing description of difficulty I fail to understand how Rex did not rate this challenging. I completely agree with his characterizing the fill-in clues as cheap, not clever. Like Nancy, I, too, am a miscreant but of a more serious degree. I do my checking using the auto feature. It does seem like a lesser form of cheat. Boggles my mind that a music conservatory grad has never heard of Enesco; probably because it’s spelled Enescu.

jae 12:29 PM  

Tough. Top half was tougher than the bottom half but both were on the tough side. NW was last to fall. Stuff in the top half that I vaguely knew took a while (and a few crosses) to bubble up...HAKUNA, GIBBS, RESNIK...while stuff I definitely knew in the bottom helped...BURNING MAN, TURING TEST...

Smooth with some fine long downs. Liked it a bunch!

egsforbreakfast 12:34 PM  

This may have been a semi-wheelhouse puz for me, as my time was a fair bit faster than yesterday. On the other hand, I had a heart ablation yesterday and today my heart is beating at a human rate for the first time in weeks. Coincidence?

Before writing this comment, I googled to see if there are better GIBBS possibilities. I didn’t find any outstanding alternatives, but I did get sidetracked into reading the Gibbs rules that are apparently randomly proffered by Agent Gibbs to his team of investigators on NCIS. There are a total of 69 Gibbs Rules, only 35 of which have been revealed (with numbers, but not in numerical order) over 17 seasons. This may mean that the producers envision another 17 or so seasons, or that they’re scraping the bottom of the barrel for rules that it might possibly make sense for a police investigator to demand that his squad follow. Some are trite or obvious, like Rule 8: Never take anything for granted. Some are silly, like Rule 9, Never go anywhere without a knife. And some are positively Trumpian, like Rule 16, If someone thinks he has the upper hand, break it.

Hereby some of my 112 rules for participating in this blog:

Rule 1. If Rex likes a puzzle, assume he really likes the constructor.
Rule 6: if Lewis doesn’t like a puzzle, assume it’s an imposter.
Rule 11: Humor Nancy when she looks up multiple answers en route to “avoiding” a DNF.
Rule D. If RooMonster finishes cleanly, wake him up. He’s dreaming.
Rule 17. Ad hominem attacks on other commenters.need to be attributed to Anonymous
Rule 18. Worship Loren Muse Smith.
Rule 67. If someone contributes consistently, say a silent thank you for what they bring to your life.

TTrimble 12:34 PM  

Agree with other commenters about the puzzle being gratuitously trappy (SPY, WANT). And with questioning whether "despotic boss" is all that apt a clue for OGRE (i.e., whether that's a "thing").

-0 for today. It's been awhile. I'm been getting -1 or -2 seemingly constantly recently (and not wanting to cry "Uncle" [Sam], so I have about 5 tabs open at any one time).

@Frantic Sloth
My own point of reference, as usual, is Bugs Bunny, "Eeh, what's all the hubbub, BUB?"

I always think of it as 40's vintage. Maybe brought into common usage via bubbeleh?

Giovanni 12:39 PM  

Also in 1985 we did call it the IBM PC or just the IBM. PC as a common term came later. When you turned those first ones on, you had to type in a lot of DOS. Who remembers DOS? Thank God the guy from accounting knew how to do it. I knew nothing about computers. The Italian Government hired me because I speak Italian and I had computers listed on my resume under Hobbies.

Carola 12:48 PM  

Lots to like, lots to tear my hair over, and in the end too tough for me. I went wrong on "as A KIT," drew a blank on HAKUNA MATATA, didn't know RESNIK (nicely paired with ASTROBOY), went with balL instead of HEEL....just enough gaps and errors to sink my ship.

Kathy 12:52 PM  

What I love about this blog is that no matter what topic comes up, there are sure to be experts who can speak authoritatively on it. And today is no exception, along comes @linac800! I never cease to be amazed at the depth and breadth of knowledge in this crowd!

I was so pleased to see JUDITH RESNIK today! I always felt that this enormously accomplished women never quite got her due in the write-ups in the aftermath of the Challenger explosion. She was overshadowed mostly by the first teacher in space, Christa McAuliffe, but also by other members of the crew.

I happened to tune in to the Challenger launch on TV that day in 1986, and anyone who witnessed it will be forever haunted by the reaction of the families of the crew who were watching from a special platform nearby. Their expressions transformed from gleeful exuberance to sheer horror with cameras trained on them as the tragic event unfolded on live TV. It haunted me for months afterward.

Google JUDITH RESNIK and take a moment...

Wit 12:56 PM  

@Jaheim 10:50 AM - I had a similar journey of male pejorative addresses.

I agree with all the comments on IBM PC in 1981. This was before IBM allowed PC clones. Although, it was also very much the Apple Macintosh and Apple IIE.

I personally quite enjoyed the clue for NEWSDESK. Also agree that several other clues seemed more arbitrarily vague to increase difficulty (see OGRE).

My challenge bar was recently reset in my ongoing quest to finish all the Thu/Fri/Sat puzzles in the archive. This week I came across Saturday September 28, 2002. It was my first flat-out, fall-on-my-face DNF in a bit.

Anonymoose 12:56 PM  

@Teedmn & Elaine. Couscous is a pasta.

@egs... Love your rules.

@others. Nothing wrong with In WANT of. You're just whining 'cause you guessed wrong.

The world is in want of a Covid-19 fix.

Unknown 12:58 PM  

Ok, three things we know to be absolutely true:
1. This was tough.
2. of course rex timed himself
3. when he says this was "medium," he is lying.

You're welcome.

Hope 1:09 PM  

They’re trying to cancel Sia. Might have to be clued as Pueblo dweller again.😳

okanaganer 1:14 PM  

Lots of discussion mileage today from the innocuous LINAC. I have a degree in physics... well OK it's only a bachelor's and it was 40 years ago... but I also don't recall ever having seen this abbrev.

I visited our U's accelerator once -- TRIUMF at the U. of British Columbia. I think it's a cyclotron, not a linear accelerator. It's way out in the middle of the forest for safety reasons, I guess. (Fun fact: according to Wikipedia, there's an asteroid named after it).

[ SB alert... Spelling Bee trivia... possible spoiler for yesterday's puzzle... BOTH words of 58 across were answers yesterday!]

Alex M 1:19 PM  

Found this one tremendously difficult. Put in CIRCLE/OF LIFE for the Lion King clue and just struggled endlessly from there. I haven't had to peek at so many answers in months. Woof.

Nick 1:33 PM  

It appears I'm the only person in the entire crossworld who doesn't understand the "28 pound" clue. Can someone PLEASE illuminate? Thanks in advance.

TTrimble 1:41 PM  

@Unknown 12:58 PM
I gotta admit, that made me laugh.

Can we see your rules? All 112 of them.

I could hug you for having the temerity to put out an SB Alert. Let's bring it back! Speaking of such trivia, Anoa Bob would be pleased as punch to know that his name can be formed from today's letters. ;-)

Joe Bleaux 1:45 PM  

Thanks, Joe. I was hoping you’d remember “Somebody’s Knockin’ “ written by Ed Penny

— Larry (Joe Bleaux)

Frantic Sloth 2:00 PM  

@GILL from last night Yes, ma'am - bells, peas, and imbiberies! Wish I was around when ACME was here. 😕

@BarbieBarbie 711am Come to think of it, I agree! (Unfortunately, this doesn't help your argument.)

@linac800 721am I couldn't understand your post less, but I'm certain that I'm grateful for the work you do. So, thank you and hang in there!
@Z 759am I know - right? That choice of song blows. Not even a huge DB fan, but like them well enough to recognize dreck.

@Nancy 959am LOL! I'm curious though... How many checks in a cheat? Is there a limit? 5 checks = 1 cheat, 7 checks = 1.4 cheats? And what about a peck of checks? Is that a DNF? Mind you, I'm not judging you (or anyone) on how you solve and the concept of cheating is, in my mind, a personal matter; however, you might have discovered a way to quantify the whole shebang! So, inquiring minds and all that.
Oh, boo - and now I see your 1031am comment. But, I still think you're onto something.

@Giovanni 1000am 😂 Thanks for the reminder!

@TTrimble 1017am Let me know when you reach full hate. We'll start a support group. 😉

@J-Dip 1056am Oh, my - what a blast from the past! I think I'd sooner remember Marla though.

@Z 1112am Yep. Thanks for the PPP analysis. I had a feeling there was more to the difficulty here than just wavelength and cheap cluing. (For WANT of a LIEU, my course was lost, SPY Fi, etc.)

@TTrimble 1234pm 👍 Of course Bugs Bunny runs a close second in this case.

@Kathy 1252pm Nicely said and good suggestion.

@egs 1234pm Simply brilliant.

Wit 2:02 PM  

@Nick 1:33 PM - I read it as the original IBM personal computer apparently weighed 28 pounds. The only real clue here was that it was something notable that debuted in 1981. Had to get it from some crosses.

Sami 2:02 PM  

@Nancy lock me up with the @RooMonster and all the other felons. I lost my way and had to cheat on the North Star and Judith Resnik and Prussia. I got from there to Nomination for the thing the Clintons both won. I was in want of all the answers and had to look up the bible one, the Elton John one and then Newsdesk crept up on me, as did Burning Man. I have improved in my puzzle solving by being more willing to delete my wrong guesses, and more apt to guess, like on asp and TopTen which was actually top hit and Onetoten, which was right even tho topone was not. Lots of counting, for this arithmafriendly tax person. Floors - very clever, very Sam-like.

I have been to the broad deserty dry lakebed where they hold Burning Man, when the event was not in session, and I'm sure as with most people that go there, that I had no idea what state I was in.

I slept with a guy who worked on the human genome project. He helped to design programming in base 4 to help a computer sequence the genome, or somesuch, and he lived in Bethesda. So that's how I happened upon NIH. I disagree that it was a DOE thing only.

I've never taken a physics class, but I knew from reading David Lindley that the Atom Bomb was an Einsteinian regret, and I was initially misled by inserting the West Bank right under that. But alas, my grid was amis. Truly messy and gratifying, eventually. Sometimes I can't even get the music with the aid of Google, so today was...worse. Because I got away with it.

I'm still addicted to Emma Chamberlain, thanks to y'all. And I'm now convinced that she's addicted to Adderal, so that's sad. It has been a tough year. I really don't want to be in prison. But I am addicted to cheating. How can I stop? I am going to try making home-made mouthwash with Aloe Vera Juice. Maybe it will help. This is the only time of year I can sustain a streak, and I'm up to 34. My goal is 100, then you probably will not hear from me for a while.

BarbieBarbie 2:21 PM  

Forgot to say I loved the FLOORS clue. I used to have a part of a children’s book called The Thirteenth Floor. It was about kids that lived on the 14th floor of a high rise and found their way, Narmia-style, into the 13th. Great partial book. I never did find a complete copy.

DigitalDan 2:23 PM  

From Rex's description alone I would have expected him to rate this one challenging. It took me much longer than usual to get enough toeholds.

sixtyni yogini 2:37 PM  

Exactly what Rex said
Plus, if I can’t get a (toe) hold of at least one answer in a section, am doomed to a very long slow solve (sometimes w google peeks 🤫.)

Bree140 3:04 PM  

@BarbieBarbie, I loved that book as a child, too. The correct title is The 13th Is Magic, the author is Joan Howard. A quick online search just now found two copies, one priced at $259.96, the other at $475. I sure wish I had hung on to my childhood copy.

bocamp 3:14 PM  

@TTrimble 12:34 PM

I agree to the extent that sb alerts and comments are in line with what you and @okanaganer 1:14 PM exhibited today. No big flashy alerts, no overblown congrats, no hooking up at the queen's inauguration, etc. Just the facts, ma'am. 😊

Peace Amani Salam Gawairþi Pace Pax Frieden 🕊

Joe Dipinto 3:45 PM  

Early psychedelic garage-rock

okanaganer 3:48 PM  

@TTimble and bocamp... also note today's constructor edits SB!

mathgent 3:53 PM  

@egsforbreakfast (12:34). Brilliant! I’m not a Trump hater but I still got a big kick out his rule. Also loved the Lewis rule.

Teedmn 4:09 PM  

@Anonymoose 12:56, I see that you are correct, my bad. But that doesn't change the nature of my complaint. Whether blobs of semolina or a grain, couscous has nothing to do with pine nuts until it becomes part of a larger dish. One wouldn't clue MEATBALL as "Spaghetti".

Jake Gibbs 4:15 PM  

Couldn’t think of any shortstops from this century huh ?

kitshef 4:48 PM  

@TTrimble - North star is Polaris (think North Pole), dog star is Sirius (think Sirius Black, who can change into a dog).

Several interesting GIBBS suggestions - @Z, I'm confused by your The Wire rant as no one seems to have mentioned anything from that show. Just a random "I hate The Wire" spasm?

TTrimble 5:01 PM  

@okanaganer 3:48 PM
Oh, I know. (Oh brother, do I know.)

bocamp 5:07 PM  

@okanaganer 3:48 PM

Roger that. It's no coincidence that the occasional x-word answers end up in the sb, sometimes on the same day. 🤔

Peace Amani Salam Gawairþi Pace Pax Frieden 🕊


I was not happy with the clue for Stent (31D). The “blockage unblocker” is typically balloon angioplasty with the stent placed subsequently to preserve the patency of the artery. So the “unblocker” is the ballon not the stent.

Anoa Bob 5:49 PM  

I've always thought of BUB (33A) as a term of endearment, not as a "Condescending term of address", as clued. One of the local sailors calls his wife BUB all the time. He also calls her the Admiral, he being the Captain. She's fine with both.

There are ALOE VERA farms down here in TexMex land. It also grows wild and, with a little watering, makes a very nice decorative plant. I used it once when I got a nasty rash from an unfriendly encounter with a cinder block. There was an ALOE plant in the yard so I cut off a piece and rubbed it across the rash. As advertised, it had a soothing effect. Plus when the gel dried, it left a protective film, kind of like a spray-on bandage.

I don't use ALOE VERA in a mouthwash, though. Most mouthwashes will wreak havoc on the mouth's normally healthy microbiome community by killing off many of the probiotic or beneficial microbes which opens the door for the harmful microbes that cause bad breath. It becomes a vicious cycle where continued use of mouthwash is necessary because the mouth's healthy microbiome is never allowed to become re-established.

I'm seeing signs of an increased interest in establishing and maintaining a healthy microbiome, both internal and external, as part of an overall healthy life style.

sb 5:56 PM  

Am I missing something with "No how" for 36D ("In any possible way, in dialect")? "No how" means "in no way" or "not at all". Aren't those concepts ("not at all" vs. "in any possible way") the exact opposite of each other?

Anoa Bob 5:58 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
algiardello 6:05 PM  

I know the distinction you mean, but it seems to me that if you get new information (including Hakuna when you have matata) as opposed to confirmation from looking things up, that’s a felony. Just my two cents.

Matthew 6:50 PM  

Thrilled to see LINAC today! I'm a radiation oncologist -- I give radiation treatments for cancer patients, and I use a linac everyday.

Paloma Vita 8:31 PM  

This was a slog for me too... and I am with whoever mentioned their surprise at seeing ALOE VERA in their mouthwash! What?! But even more for me was the PINE NUTS in couscous. My mother and grandfather were both born in Egypt and the family spent many years there before moving to France and I have been eating traditional couscous since I was knee-high to a grasshopper, and I have since eaten the Moroccan, Algerian and Tunisian versions, and no pine nuts in any of them! I still had some fun figuring out the more obscure clues, such as FLOORS and NEWSDESK. Kind of nice to see BURNINGMAN making an appearance too even though it's not what it used to be...

Monty Boy 12:03 AM  

And I'll have you know, I'm a Bobcat alum (MSU).

BeeHappyNow 1:07 AM  

The Sunday 11/22/2020 puzzle was too wacky for my taste. I like my numbers to stay in number land.

thurston 4:39 AM  

A poet is an expert on feet?

D 8:32 AM  

Congrats - great post!

chinch 4:07 PM  

@linac800 Thanks for the fun post!

Rehan 9:33 PM  

Barry Habib Net Worth

Westword 9:31 AM  

One of those puzzles that’s probably fun for the constructor but not so much for the solver. A slog from start to don’t-care-that-I dnf

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