Creators of quipus / SAT 12-26-20 / Italian sculptor Lorenzo Bernini / Keogh alternative / No-nos at racetrack

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Constructor: John Guzzetta

Relative difficulty: Medium (untimed)

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: NEC (62A: Major chip maker) —

NEC Corporation (日本電気株式会社Nippon Denki Kabushiki-gaisha) is a Japanese multinational information technology and electronics company, headquartered in Minato, Tokyo. The company was known as the Nippon Electric Company, Limited, before rebranding in 1983 as NEC. It provides IT and network solutions, including cloud computingAIIoT platform, and 5G network products, to business enterprises, communications services providers and to government agencies, and has also been the biggest PC vendor in Japan since the 1980s, when it launched the PC-8000 series.

NEC was the world's fourth largest PC manufacturer by 1990. Its semiconductors business unit was the world's largest semiconductor company by annual revenue from 1985 to 1992, the second largest in 1995, one of the top three in 2000, and one of the top 10 in 2006. NEC spun off its semiconductor business to Renesas Electronics and Elpida Memory. Once Japan's major electronics company, NEC has largely withdrawn from manufacturing since the beginning of the 21st century.

NEC was #463 on the 2017 Fortune 500 list. NEC is a member of the Sumitomo Group. (wikipedia)

• • •

Happy Boxing Day. This one was DRAB. There's not a single answer here that I was really excited to see. Maybe people think SELF-DRIVING CAR is pretty showy, but my feelings about cars in general, and these pedestrian-maiming data-collecting Matrix-serving cars in particular, are pretty negative, so no joy there. From tech bros to sports bros (LEFT TACKLE crossing AIKMAN) to poker bros (CARD SHARKS*), to political bros (ELDER STATESMAN), this puzzle bros its way through brosville. There's just one woman mentioned in the whole puzzle (also the puzzle's lone Black person) (22A: Singer India.___), and she's only there because she's crosswordese, i.e. short answer, favorable letters. You do get ANN, but the clue makes that a city name part, not a woman (42A: One "A" in the Michigan nickname). Please don't ask me to count DAMSEL, since that word evokes only distress. Compare this puzzle with yesterday's, and (I hope) you really see a difference in vision. Not only did yesterday's have more plain-old winners, but it deliberately included All Kinds of stuff, All Kinds of people. You could really feel the conscious inclusivity. This one, on the other hand, feels like not much thought was given to diversifying the fill or the cluing. Very traditional, in the sense that puzzles "traditionally" oriented themselves to an older, white audience. There's nothing terrible about this puzzle. It just has no sizzle and feels like it belongs to a bygone (more exclusionary) era. I think SPARKS was probably my favorite thing in the puzzle, mostly because I got a little jolt (!) of Aha. Nothing else in the puzzle gave me much of a jolt.

Found the west much easier than the east, mainly because the clue on SELF-DRIVING CAR is so contrived (10D: Something for which a dealer might tell customers "Hands off!"). It's trying so hard to be clever and misdirective that it ends up creating a completely implausible scenario on a literal level. Imagine any salesperson shouting "Hands off!" at customers. It's too harshly admonitory and too infantilizing to be realistic. The clue needed a "?" because it's doing a wordplay thing that distorts the literal plausibility of the clue too much. Again, if you're gonna get winky and clever with your clues, They Must Land. Bah. Anyway, the first time I felt stuck was here:

The NE was the real problem. Just after I took this screenshot, I looked at the clue for LEFT TACKLE and got it instantly (52A: Protector of a quarterback's blind side, often), so despite my having almost completely forgotten that Troy AIKMAN once existed, I managed to piece that corner together. But even with -INGCAR at the end of 10D, I couldn't understand what the clue wanted. So the NE looked bad for a little bit. It's possible I would've gotten DO-OVERS (not DOES OVER) eventually (36A: Retries; a noun!), and even possible that PICOT would've leapt into my brain (32A: Embroidery loop), but what weirdly saved me up there, what did actually leap into my head after I thought about it for two or three seconds, was POLAR ICE (11D: Cap material). Brain just rolodexed through cap types, hit ice cap, and bam, with just the "O" in place: POLAR ICE. And then all of a sudden, seemingly in a flash, a daunting, wide-open empty space was filled and the puzzle was done. Wish I'd liked it more. 

Any tricky stuff that needs explaining? FAUX AMIS means "false friends," in case that was unclear (57A: Words in a foreign language that bear a deceptive resemblance to those in another, like the French "décevoir" ("disappoint") and the English "deceive"). I know the term "false cognates," but if I ever knew FAUX AMIS, I forgot it. Alas and alack. There are two "N"s in "pennies," so that's what that clue is about (56D: Couple of pennies? = ENS). I don't like it either, but it's an unfortunately common little gimmick for cluing double letters (ENS EMS PEES etc.). I think that's it. Enjoy your day. Good luck with all your boxing!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

*I'm well aware that women *can* be CARD SHARKS, but every single one I've ever seen on screen or anywhere has been a dude, and the card-playing word is an absolute sausagefest so please don't "well, actually" me on this one, thx. Well, actually, you can "well, actually" me on this one, but only if it's to say, "well, actually, the term is CARD SHARPS"

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Dave in Ancaster 6:38 AM  

Isn't 34d a faux pas? It had its opinions = op edge page, but "op" stands for opinion, right? Like having DQ cross wth Queen, but Q means Queen.

bocamp 6:42 AM  

Thx, @John; really enjoyed your Sat. creation!

Very much in my wheelhouse; well below av. time.

"Swanee" (Gershwin) - A Cappella Barbershop Quartet - Julien Neel

Peace 🕊

Conrad 6:58 AM  

A dealer might tell a customer "Hands off!" if there were a SoLar RacING CAR in the showroom, to demonstrate the make's sophisticated engineering. That messed me up for a very long time and inspired numerous fruitless Google searches.

I had POL-something for the cap at 11D and tried to make it POLlution or a POLlutant or some such, thinking of a Cap-and-Trade program.

I'm "Not very bright." So much so that I had DumB for DRAB trap at 24A. My only reason to doubt it was that it didn't cross with my SoLar RacING CAR and my non-fitting POLlutant.

I don't think I missed any of the traps.

OffTheGrid 7:02 AM  

Easier than some Saturdays. Nice to see LIBERACE. I saw his show once. It was one of the most fun and entertaining evenings of my life. Really!

Coniuratos 7:14 AM  

I don't actively follow professional poker or anything, but my personal favorite CARD SHARK is Victoria Coren Mitchell, who also hosts the excellent British quiz show "Only Connect". Definitely worth a watch.

ChuckD 7:42 AM  

Yesterday’s marquee and only long entry was “Time’s person of the year” Rex - so elegant and crunchy. I stopped reading the critique today when he played the gender and race cards. He’s becoming a parody of himself and not offering any cogent discussion on the puzzle. I think it was Christgau who explained the difference between a Jay-guy and a Jeff-guy after Uncle Tupelo broke up. Rex is undoubtedly a Jeff-guy.

Like a good Saturday should be - this one put up a fight. Light on the pop culture and strong on wordplay. FAUX AMIS was in my head somewhere but that SE corner gave me fits. Liked the clues for SNIFFLE and POLAR ICE. Both long downs were nice and little to no glue.

Not a great puzzle - but representative of what a Saturday should be and an enjoyable solve. Near 60 yesterday - 25 this morning and some people still argue that climate change isn’t real.

LaurieG in CT 7:50 AM  

I agree, I couldn't believe that got through, ridiculous.

linac800 7:54 AM  

@Dave in Ancaster: it is my recollection that Op-Ed came into common usage in the early 70’s and is an abbreviation for “opposite editorial” as in the page opposite the paper’s editorial page on which other independent opinions are published. So, not similar to the Q/Queen kerfuffle.

Anonymous 7:56 AM  

Good catch! It's a bit different in that the DQ/QUEEN thing was duplicate answers. Opinion/OPED is a clue-answer dup. Seems just as wrong, though.

Todd 7:59 AM  

Let me think for a moment, there must be something is this world I care about less than the ratio of male to female answers in the puzzle. Nope, can't think of a thing. Especially when I find nothing inherently masculine about Card Shark.

pabloinnh 8:12 AM  

Had some experiences similar to OFL's today, i.e. had the end of 10D as an ___INGCAR and wanted to put in some kind of MOVINGCAR. Who would want to put his hands on that? Also am very familiar with the term "false cognates" from years of teaching Spanish. One of the most cringe worthy examples is "hay" (there is, there are, in Spanish) which was almost invariably pronounced by beginning readers like the stuff that grows in the field. Ay ay ay.

I'm also with OFL on the exclusionary nature of this one. We have a reptile but no mammals and a flower but no vegetables. Football sure, but where's the baseball? A mention of percussion instruments, but no strings. In short, crossword puzzles need to be far more massive.

Ha ha, just kidding. Liked your effort just fine, JG, and was sorry when it was over because I was having a good time.

David Sinclair 8:17 AM  

@Dave in Ancaster - I only recently discovered that oped means “opposite the editorial page”; with editorials being written by the paper’s editors, and opinions being written by outsiders.

MikeyV48111 8:21 AM  


albatross shell 8:23 AM  

Actually @linaco is correct. OP is from opposite. No duplication. OPEDs are not editorials either unless they are from another newspaper.

Scarne 8:27 AM  

I found it hard and had to cheat, Rex should get over himself. It’s just a puzzle. The only problem is the correct phrase is card sharp ( I know e sharp was in the puzzle blah blah blah ) Card Sharks was a game show.

TTrimble 8:29 AM  

An enjoyable review from Rex. "Sausagefest". An excellent and useful word, that I have frequent recourse to when watching TV. And yes, actually, it did used to be CARD SHARpS, and I thought that instantly when I put it in.

My reaction is sort of similar to Rex's. I'm not a bro-sy bro, so I don't know jack about football (really, haven't followed it in years), and thus things like AIKMAN and LEFT TACKLE had to be pried out of me slowly. (What does it say about me that LIBERACE came much more readily?) But the worst was the dealer thing where, speaking of CARD SHARKS, I kept thinking, not car dealer, but card dealer in a casino. (Hence I wondered whether "car" might be something like a shoe that holds decks -- it didn't occur to me for quite some time to put the car together with the dealer -- oh please shoot me.)

The smugness I felt about putting in DANE with total confidence -- smug because how many people know Aarhus? -- was totally offset by my numbnuts ignorance that POSY could mean more than one flower. PICOT: well, I'm too much of a bro to get that one right away. (I might have asked Mrs. T, but she was already in bed asleep.) DO-OVERS looks a little dooky, doesn't it (assuming I understand what "dook" means -- I *think* I do)? It needs something. If not a hyphen, then perhaps one of those diaresis things that the New Yorker is fond of. Which would make it suddenly hilarious to me. Like a hat on a horse.

So yeah, like Rex, I found the East much more troublesome than the West. I liked ELEVATOR post facto for its tricky cluing, but in a kind of mock-angry fist-shaking "why I oughta" (spoken in a James Cagney voice) way. I learned something new from the East: FAUX AMIS. I'd like more examples than the decevoir one.

The whole bro thing that so exercises Rex (rexercises? ruh-roh!) doesn't bother me much, because (1) I find the answers rich and interesting and variegated, and (2) it was a good mental workout, albeit slightly frustrating at times.

Peace. And out.

SouthsideJohnny 8:34 AM  

Btw - OP originally meant opposite, so we can let that one R.I.P. I found most everything west of the Mississippi to be pretty reasonable today - the east coast was pretty much a wasteland for me. I had no chance at FAUX AMIS (or GIAN), would never think of DO OVERS as synonymous with “retires”, have no clue how “rules” define ERAS - and don’t see the relationship between Iris and AREOLA - maybe it’s a botanical thing. That section also includes PICOT and ASSISI, which are at least Thursday-level difficult for me - so I didn’t really have a chance on those either without the crosses.

I didn’t read OFL’s post today, from the early comments it sounds like he’s up to his old tricks (sounds like today he’s back to gender-equivalence). As for me, I would prefer that they just used English words and let those who speak French read Elle, those who sprechen Deutsch can peruse Der Spiegel, etc . . . And maybe tone down the trivia a bit (which would actually be awesome !).

Anonymous 8:37 AM  

Merriam Webster weighs in:

Definition of op-ed; An essay in a newspaper or magazine that gives the OPINION of the writer and that is written by someone who is not employed by the newspaper or magazine.

See the full definition for op-ed in the English Language Learners Dictionary

Z 8:38 AM  

Between ANN Arbor and KENT State University there was a stronger than usual midwestern vibe in the west. Like Rex, the NE was my sticking point. Dull before DRAB was a bit of a hold-up. I also puzzled over FAUX AMIS. It makes sense now that I see that it comes from a book title, but was trying to make it somehow relate to false etymologies with no success.

OP ED has been discussed ad nauseum before and @linac800 is correct that OP ED began as “OPposite the EDitorial page. There’s the literal meaning, the page opposite the editorial page, and the metaphorical meaning, opinions in opposition to the editorial page.

Z 8:46 AM  

@Anon8:37 - Maybe start with the definition at the top of the page rather than the one that supports your opinion next time.

John H 8:50 AM  

@Dave in Ancaster, The Op in Op Ed stands for opposite, not opinion, as in opposite the editorial page.

ow a paper cut 8:54 AM  

“Diversifying the fill”. This is silly

Anonymous 8:55 AM  

Happy St. Stephen’s Day to those who celebrate it and to everyone else !

Anonymous 8:59 AM  

@Southside. The clue is Retries. I read it wrong, too, at first. I thought maybe it something to do with putting new rubber on the SELFDRIVINGCAR. You got me thinking about Rules/ERAS which I didn't get. But maybe it means the rules of kings or queens or csars or tzars. e.g. the QEI era.

Birchbark 8:59 AM  

I before E in ARIE -- the last letter to fall today, and on the first try.

DOOVER ham. There's a joke there somewhere, with a little polishing (cf. @TTrimble (8:29)).

What did the trout fisherman say at the restaurant? "Waiter, there's a DAMSEL in my soup."

Rich Glauber 8:59 AM  

Uh oh Here we go with the imBROglio
Another BROuhaha which kinda BROught down the appreciation of a fine puzzle. I thought the clue for 'elevator' was next level misdirection. Superb.

A2JD 9:03 AM  

Ann Arbor was named after two women named Ann.

Anonymous 9:04 AM  

I have no opposite, I mean opinion. I just offered it as another perspective. The "opposite" meaning is a new perspective for me. Learned something.

kitshef 9:11 AM  

PICOT, TORTLAW, DOOVERS and APIAN all sound like they should be Pokemon creatures.

Liked this one a lot – much better than yesterday. I do always want CARD SHARpS, but I acknowledge that SHARKS is now acceptable.

Almost DNF’d thinking POLARItE or POLARInE might be a type of materials (and not knowing PICOT) – figured it out only at the very end.

Not familiar with the term FAUX AMIS; I think that’s the same as a false cognate? My favorite is the Spanish ‘embarazada’. This does not mean ‘embarrassed’; it means ‘pregnant’. That’s a mistake you only make once in class.

Anonymous 9:11 AM  

Sometimes reading this blog is like reading The Onion. Totally deadpan: “ Conscious inclusivity” LOL.

Joaquin 9:12 AM  

@Rex says he has forgotten that "Troy AIKMAN once existed."

Rex, you need to get out more. Or perhaps you should stay in more and watch some tv. Troy Aikman has been a major presence on football broadcasts for 20 years. Add this to his playing days and he has been in the football spotlight for close to 40 years.

Seems unfair (and insulting) to me to just write him off as having "once existed."

amyyanni 9:22 AM  

Just not on my wavelength today. O well, happens. Good Boxing Day! Off to contemplate leftover figgy pudding.

Lewis 9:29 AM  

My favorite part of the solve was in the NE, where I went from scrambling in the dark, thinking I’d never find an exit, then BOOM came SELF DRIVING CAR with a “Hah”, then POLAR ICE with a “HAHA!”, then full fill-in with admiration and gratitude.

That’s a journey to remember: From an empty seemingly-inescapable wilderness, to dining in the laugh-e-teria, to props and “I hope this never stops”. Only in crosswords. Thank you JG!

Teedmn 9:31 AM  

I had an extremely desultory solve today. DAMSEL crossing CEL. Moved along to ESHARP crossing ARIE. Down to SWANEE crossing ___LAW which is where things started to click.

Not until I got all the way through the NW, SW and SE did I run into more stickiness. I had no trouble with SELF-DRIVING CAR, guessed from INGCAR and confirmed with DO-OVERS and PICOT, but then DumB held me up to the point that I crossed out SELF, AREOLe, IRA and sat there. I wrote down my time at that point to see how much longer I would sit there.

Finally, I re-read the clue for 24A and came up with DRAB. I was stuck on DumB because I was positive 13D ended with BETS. And I was correct.

So did that break the logjam completely? Not exactly. I was being DOOKed by _____RICE at 11D and only hats and explosive caps were coming to mind there. ELEVATOR is actually what got me moving forward. When I was done, I saw that that corner, north of RITE and right of DAMSEL, had take nearly seven minutes!

I circled the clue for 40D, "Cold evidence" as clever. I loved recalling FAUX AMIS from college French. And I was happy to have explained the mystery of what you call an embroidery loop other than a loop. Ah, the stitch is a loop, PICOT. Always nice when something I learned when I was 9 years old in Campfire Girls comes in handy in a crossword puzzle 51 years later! NOAH as an organizer of a couples cruise is fun too.

I did side-eye CARD SHAR_S, with E SHARP already in the puzzle.

All together, I loved solving this tough-for-me Saturday puzzle. Thanks, John Guzzetta.

albatross shell 9:33 AM  

@Joaquin 912AM
In fact AIKMAN worked yesterday's NFL game.

kitshef 9:38 AM  

@pabloinnh - pretty sure India ARIE is a mammal. [Although now that you mention it, she could be some kind of space reptile for all I know - It's just a name that appears in crosswords who I learned just today is female.] YUCCAS are eaten as vegetables in Central America. DANE De La Rosa of the L.A. Angles retired with the phenomenal won/lost percentage of .857. And with LIBERACE, we have one of the most famous stringed instrument players ever.

SouthsideJohnny 9:39 AM  

Thanks to @anon at 8:59 for the clarification on the misread. I guess you can get to “the rule of Tsar Nicholas was the last of the Romanov Era (dynasty ?). Maybe that’s how we got Elizabethan as well. Seems like it would be accurate to say “Rulers defined” as well. That’s definitely a Saturday clue if that’s the play on words that they are after.

Omg, I mentioned that I didn’t read OFL’s post today - what more evidence do you need that Rex is living in his own alternate reality than “Troy Aikman once existed”. ROFLMAO ! Did he really write that ? He’s a lot like Trump with his alternate reality B/S. I thinks it actually amusing to be lectured on gender-equality, political correctness, the uselessness of the Second Amendment to the constitution, et c. by a guy who teaches people about comic strips for a living - yes, comic strips ! You can’t make this stuff up. Actually, it’s a touch disconcerting to come to the realization that taxpayers are forced to surrender their hard earned dollars to subsidize the cost of a grown man teaching other (presumably) grownups about COMIC STRIPS ! Omg, Rex - you are just too funny !

TTrimble 9:41 AM  

I'm too lazy to go back to yesterday's commentary to see who wrote it, but I do like, in response to "Achoo!", saying "God bless you, if you believe in God." To the point where I might incorporate it into my speech.

(My mother might add to that, "or even if you don't".)

Anonymous 9:43 AM  

What the heck does 42 across mean? A2 (squared)

puzzlehoarder 9:43 AM  

A very strange solving experience today (actually last night.) I went through the western two thirds of the puzzle like it was early week. Then that eastern third froze me out for a good 20 minutes straight.

After DAMSEL, KNEADS,ASSISI, SNIFFLE and STAIR my solving ability suddenly fell off the map. I've never heard of a Keogh plan and am blissfully unaware of the phrase 'ELEVATOR pitch'. PICOT and POSY we're beyond my cold guessing range. Like @pabloinnh, I prefer false cognates over false friends. That bias helped me to completely ignore the French hint in the 57A clue. Just thinking that 53D must have an L blinded me to TUBA. However once I spotted TUBA that entire east end snapped into place from south to north faster than any other part of the puzzle.

A weird solving experience but very enjoyable.

barryo 9:45 AM  

The protector of the quarterback's blind side is the left guard not the left tackle.

MickMcMick 9:49 AM  

Mostly easyish. Card sharps is correct. Elevator music, I get, but pitch elevator? Mood Seoul’s have been better. Loved do overs and Liberace. Good Saturday albeit not the usual challenge. Cheers

Anonymous 9:49 AM  

Can someone explain what Rex meant when he wrote, "I think SPARKS was probably my favorite thing in the puzzle...? I did not see SPARKS as a clue nor an answer.

RooMonster 9:50 AM  

Hey All !
Hung up in the NE like some of y'all. If I just hung on a couple of ONESECs more, I would've got it. But, my typical end-of-solve-getting-antsy impatience got the better of me, and I looked up Keogh. The ole brian refused to spell AREOLA correctly, I knew it had to be that, but just couldn't get the letters to play nice. Saw Keogh as an alternate to an IRA, might've let an "of course" slip out, and off of that, managed to suss out the rest of that corner. ELEVATOR pitch is a Huh? Is that a baseball pitch that rises up? Serious question, BTW.

Just a couple of DOOVERS today (@TTrimble, you are correct. DOOK came into being from the answer DO OK, as in do good. I forgot who coined it, Rex maybe?), Dull-DRAB, aSk___-USHERSOUT, AuS___-ASSISI, SToop-STAIR, lizArd-IGUANA.

For some odd reason, I always think an OBOE is similar to a TUBA. OBOE just sounds big, no? Maybe it's just me...

POLARICE for Cap material. Sneaky, John. I wanted woolsomething, but that third spot L was tough to deny. Tricky clue on DISPEL also.

LEIS had a funny clue, Aromatic attire. All I could think of was Lady Gaga's meat suit.

Learned CARD SHARpS was the orignal saying. Iv'e only always known it as SHARKS. And ANN ARBOR was named after two women. Sounds logical. Although, it could've been a single woman named ANN ARBOR. Good think the ones name wasn't Gulchinski, then we'd have the wonderful city of ANN Gulchinski. "I spent my summer up in ANN Gulchinski, what a charming city!" /scene

Anyway, nice themeless, worked the ole brian just enough to let me know it's still there!

Three F's

Mr. Cheese 9:52 AM  

Enough already! OP meant “opposite” when first coined.

Sgreennyc 9:53 AM  

More subjective bullshit from Rex. Waste of time. Comments section is always more interesting.

Mon Ami 10:06 AM  

It’s a pretty safe bet that Sharpie is not a Seinfeld fan.

Seinfeld on Diversity

GILL I. 10:09 AM  

@pablito and favorite false cognate on a menu in Madrid: Apple pie de manzana. How about costipacion?
Oh...the puzzle. it had a little of this, a little of that and I made mistakes all over the place: DOOVERS: side bets/LATE BETS, dumb/DRAB, moon/EDGE, line back/LEFT TACKLE and I won't bother you with the rest. John and I weren't seeing ojo a ojo.
What got me was the cluing. I live for clues. You can give me a shitty puzzle but if the clues are clever and fun to suss out, I'm in hog heaven. This one just lost me. Organizer of a couples cruise? Groan, then moan, then oh no don't be NOAH. I did like the going out for a while/SIESTA. I had several after yesterday's food fest. Dang...we sure ate a lot.
Ok, so I had to Google a few because I had wrong answers. I always sit back and try to find something to amuse me. Today it was LIBERACE and wondering how he got that name. I suppose if your first name is Wiadzu (sp?) you'd change it to something liberating......I like flamboyant and glittery and he was certainly that. Does anybody really have a pet IGUANA?

Nancy 10:11 AM  

Thanks to someone called @Always Check Your Grid from a couple of years ago, I avoided a DNF. STrip for the "locale near a landing" had given me FrUXAMIS for the 57A language clue -- a very strange word -- and I was planning to ask @Loren about it. Then I saw it. FAUX AMIS. (I did study French, after all.) So what was the "landing" answer? Aha -- STAIR.

Having whizzed through the left side of the puzzle, I was going to pronounce it much too easy for a Saturday, but then I got to the right side and had some trouble. It's still easy as Saturdays go, but not that easy.

Really liked SELF-DRIVING CAR. NOAH and OP ED PAGE were nicely clued, but also pretty obvious to an old puzzle hand like me. I loved SPARKS as the answer to "start of a romance". Enjoyable puzzle.

Time to take my "pet" IGUANA out for a walk.

RooMonster 10:16 AM  

"Things we're thankful for"

Low interest rates, and the flexibility of lenders in these trying times, during an otherwise brutal economic period.


Moochie 10:16 AM  

Re: Rex's comment regarding female card sharps on screen, I can think of two: in the Bosch TV series, Bosch's ex-wife is a professional poker player, and in Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Rhonda Fleming has a rather prominent part as a professional poker player.

ow a paper cut 10:20 AM  


jberg 10:22 AM  

ERAS is a baseball clue—with rules defining which runs are earned by whom. Or else they are the periods of rule of a particular sovereign, like the Elizabethan era in England or the Showa Era in Japan. Works either way.

albatross shell 10:22 AM  

@birchbark 859am
I found that joke funny and alluring. Did you hatch it up yourself or is it an old fisherman's joke?
I never caught it before.

jberg 10:26 AM  

Yeah, as I confidently wrote in the wrong answer I was asking myself, why are they card sharps but pool sharks?

Why seek diversity in fill and themes? So none of us old white guys will be confronted with a puzzle chock full of answers like PICOT

Georgia 10:28 AM  

Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Georgia 10:30 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carola 10:32 AM  

Easy and fun. INCA gave me the Downs I needed for USHER OUT, and ELDER STATESMAN worked as a descending ELEVATOR, taking me to TEENSY. Then a move to the right with LEFT TACKLE, and the SELF-DRIVING CAR got me back up to the top. Last in: DISPEL x LATE BETS.
SPOILER RE: FRIDAY'S PUZZLE. I liked today's single SNIFFLE as a complement to yesterday's single GALOSH, as if wearing one of the pair is 50% protective against catching a cold.

Do-over: CARD SHARpS. Help from previous puzzles: ARIE.

Nancy 10:34 AM  

In my neck of the woods, it's CARD SHARKS. I've never heard any other term. Of course if my neck of the woods were Vegas or Atlantic City, I guess my opinion would mean more.

Speaking of "opinion" -- amen to everyone who pointed out that OP-ED means "opposite the editorial page". That's what it means.

I, too, was under the impression that the player who protects a QB's blind side was the left guard. So I looked up the name of the player featured in the movie "The Blind Side" (wonderful movie, btw) and it's Michael Oher. I then looked up the position that Michael Oher played ad it's LEFT TACKLE. So the clue is correct.

pabloinnh 10:36 AM  

@kitshef-Well I stand corrected, and thoroughly so. I'll have to think more deeply before trying to make OFL look slightly ridiculous.

@GILL I-I think my favorite in Madrid was coming down with a cold and having my Spanish madre ask me "Estas constipado?". That was a learning moment.

TTrimble 10:36 AM  

I don't pay much attention to comic books myself, but I don't think of that as anything to be proud of. It's yet another world I know little about.

Leslie Fiedler, a respected literary critic and man of letters, i.e., no slouch, has argued eloquently in defense of comic books as a form of literature. I can't find the exact essay I'm looking for, but as a placeholder I'll link to this.

So I find that your holding up Sharp's courses as an object of mockery falls a little flat. I for one would be curious what he might have to say.

Z 10:39 AM  

@Lewis - Hey, The New Yorker is stealing your idea!

Georgia 10:45 AM  

Sparks is 25A, the "start of a romance."

Whatsername 10:47 AM  

What a great Saturday to wind up the week and most deservedly Jeff Chen’s choice for POW. I too got hung up in the NE, not really that tough a section but I hurt myself with DULL in place of DRAB. Just as I was about to give up, I saw ELEVATOR, then realized my error at 24A and smacked myself in the forehead when POLAR ICE appeared. Still surprised I was able to get that long 10 down - which was pretty unexpected and the even more foreign FAUX AMI at 57A which was a complete mystery when I first read the clue. The fact that I could get those from the surrounding fill is IMO the mark of an extremely well put together puzzle.

Excellent clue for NOAH, the original couples match-maker. Always thought POSY meant a single flower. Loved the crossing of LEFT TACKLE with AIKMAN who by the way @Rex, is alive and well and doing regular TV appearances as a commentator on NFL games. Everyone who’s ever seen The Blind Side knows who Lawrence Taylor is and the true story of Michael Oher, two of football’s most famous offensive tackles. A little language and gang related violence but otherwise pretty clean viewing and a heartwarming story for the whole family.

Joaquin 10:50 AM  

I suppose many of the regulars here, being word-nerds like me, are familiar with Richard Lederer the well-known word maven. He developed and for many years hosted the NPR show "A Way With Words", and writes a newspaper column "Lederer On Language".

His daughter is Annie Duke, a female poker player. Duke has won the World Series of Poker and has lifetime poker earnings exceeding $4 million.

So, Rex ... "well, actually ... "

Anonymous 10:52 AM  

yeah, but Tony Romo is better in the booth.

JamieP 10:52 AM  

One of those puzzles where I went to bed thinking there's no possible way I can fill in even one more clue and I woke up to finish the second half easily. Strange how the human brain works. I had just the L for something you can add lime to and confidently plunked down HOLE. My wife thinks I've been watching too much Forensic Files.

Unknown 10:53 AM  

It's amazing how quickly the joy of solving a Saturday puz in record time vanishes after reading rex's dose of daily negativity. Re: poker bros, he (and anyone else!) should read psychologist Maria Konnikova’s The Biggest Bluff, her tale of her journey through the world of tournament poker as the protegee of Poker Hall of Famer Erik Seidel. Wonderful story.

Grateful for our local public library system (through which I got this book to read a couple of months ago.)

Anonymous 10:53 AM  

It’s ad nauseam not nauseum as you wrote. Maybe it’s you who needs the dictionary.

Hungry Mother 10:54 AM  

Somehow, my slog was faster than usual today. Very few write-overs and some lucky guesses kept me going.

jae 11:06 AM  

Easy except for the NE. MAraca before MALLET sucked up a ton of nanoseconds. Also my mind went in the wrong direction for the “#1, informally” clue.

Solid but not much sparkle except for maybe FAUX AMIS. Liked it and Jeff gave it POW.

burtonkd 11:11 AM  

Well actually, the wikipedia link pretty clearly shows that both sharp and shark are correct and interchangeable (though sharp predates shark). I was wondering about that, so thanks for the link.

I'm all for inclusivity, but using disparaging terms like dude or sausage to refer to a person bc of their inherited gender, is just substituting one form of exclusion for another.

The "hands off!" dealer just had to be for art, so when the answer finally aha-ed itself into my brain, it was fun.

@kitschef - you're being facetious, but the piano is not a stringed instrument, but part of the percussion family, the hammers almost being (heaven forfend) mallets - further skewing our balance.

The left guard and left tackle both protect the blind side of a QB, as can a running back or tight end, unless of course the QB is a southpaw. Tackle is a better answer than guard because he is further from the center and the defender is more likely to be in a blind spot. Mansplanation out!

I haven't looked it up, but Swanee seems like something that might reek of a racist past.

johnk 11:14 AM  

The actual river is the Suwanee, which empties into the Gulf of Mexico in north Florida. In the song it's "Swanee" so it fits the meter, or so it fits the way people pronounce it. Thus the river of song is SUWANEE, not SWANEE. Would "Mississip" (as in "the mighty Mississip" of Johnny Horton's song The Battle of New Orleans) qualify as a river of song? Just asking.

Frantic Sloth 11:16 AM  

Who let the Saturdee Stumper in??
Somehow it felt like it took me waaaaay longer than 30 mins. to finish this. Perhaps because, once again, I fell asleep mid-solve and had to continue today...and no wiser or closer than I was while deep in dreamland.

Of course, it all makes perfect sense after the fact...

New to me:

India.ARIE (I'm an ancient sub-rock dweller)
"Quipus" (those creative and yet maddening INCAs)
"Aarhus", or you know, DANE-ish
ELEVATOR (pitch)
PRISMOID (sounds like a robot that's pretty when light hits it)

"Never remember" to me:

"Keogh" (IRA alt.) because moneyness? Next best thing to mathiness.
PICOT (there's a strong possibility this belongs in "new to me", but I have a feeling I've seen it before...and many times.)
FAUX AMIS (see note for PICOT)
LIBERACE (the nickname, not the dude)

Things I'll probably never learn:

"Basilicas" (esp. names and/or locations)
Danish (let's be real)
NEC (when chip appears in a clue, I think Intel or maybe Lay's or even the youngest [originally] son of Steven Douglas)

Things I had no business "knowing", but, as if by magic, I plopped right in:

ANN (for ANN Arbor, Michigan I assume??)
TORTLAW (must have learned it during my disastrous detour through business school)

Something to do with the "eye" to me (arched eyebrow, side eye, eye roll):

CURAD (redheaded step-sibling of BandAid)
IRKS (Ruffles? See NEC)
LATEBETS (winner of today's "no shit, Sherlock" award)

The rest was gravy! 😉

Happy place items:

Loved the grid-(minus-one)-spanners ELDERSTATESMAN, and SELFDRIVINGCAR (esp. as clued!)

Finally didn't fall for the ENS misdirect! Yay, me!

DOOVER ham sammich? Yes, please!


Multiple Choice Pop Quiz:

"I read this whole post, and...

a.) was so worth it!
b.) it? I most certainly did not! I'm no fool.
c.)...just shoot me now.
d.)...poke my eye out with a stick and then shoot me
e.)...none of the above, and furthermore, I'm not taking this stupid quiz.

Newboy 11:17 AM  

Rex pans it , but Jeff gives it his POW designation? FAUX AMIS n’est ca paws one might suspect. I have sorta mixed reactions as I consider my DO OVERS...LEIS, SPARKS and NOAH were just fun to fill in given their clues, but PICOT/POSY blind sided me. And the Midwest focus definitely wasn’t helpful since Ann Arbor as A2 was a mystery until SWANEE flowed down the grid.

Thanks John for sharing an interesting challenge.

TJS 11:17 AM  

Rex, you are so right in your analysis of "conscious inclusivity" of yesterdays' puzzle versus the "brosville" of todays'. Just wondering how you deal with the issue in your comics class. I don't remember any people of color working at the Daily Planet, and Lois lane seemed to exist only to be rescued. Any minorities working for Gothams mayor or police commisioner? For crying out loud, even Archie went to an all white high school !!

If you can complain "not much thought...given to diversifying" in a crossword, how do you justify comics as course material ? Just wondering ?

Sixthstone 11:18 AM  

I love the Rex haters! Cracks me up. Why do you read the blog? You KNOW what Rex stands for and stands against? It's like going to a $10 all-you-can-eat buffet and complaining about fat people. Or watching Fox News and complaining that it's pro-Republican. I guess people just love to hate! Keep it up, Rex.

Puzzle itself was meh. Some (overly?) clever cluing made the east tough but ultimately solvable. This isn't truly a bro-puzzle because it's got no booze.

Hungry Mother 11:23 AM  

About a year and a half ago, I ran the DXA2 (Dexter to Ann Arbor) Half Marathon with my brother to celebrate his 75th Birthday. It’s a beautiful run on a vacant road next to a lovely river. The rolling hills are a bit demanding, but I highly recommend the June event.

JD 11:37 AM  

Faux Amis, how I love ya, how I love ya, my dear Faux Ami. Nah, not really. That paired with the long gone Liberace made for some deep thinking. Also didn't know that an Iguana could be a pet, but it all came together as an easier Saturday than most for me (with a little help from my friend Check).

@TTrimble and Grouch from yesterday, Habari gani. Unity brothers. Enjoy your Kwanzaa. From now on I'm just gonna say it.

Birchbark 11:38 AM  

@albatross shell (10:22) -- I'm afraid it's my own, but you're spinning them so quickly it's hard to keep up.

Reminds me of when I went down to the river and saw some line tangled in an overhanging branch -- some hapless fisherman LEFT TACKLE there. (True story: that hapless fisherman was me. It is a memory I must learn to live with.)

Anonymous 11:41 AM  

We all know why Rex likes Archie comics. Betty and Veronica. The reason is grotesque but easy to discern. (Just writing that implication made me shudder)

Pete 12:00 PM  

@MickMcMick - An ELEVATOR pitch is a very short speech you prepare to pitch your idea to your boss's boss (or a startup-investor) in case you meet her in the elevator. You can get your idea in front of a decision maker but only if you have a spiel that can be delivered in the time it takes to travel 3 floors.

POLARICE is sooo passe. Unfortunately. Re-boot your personal Way-Back Machine, go to yesterday and ask GRETA T.

Today's puzzle had 1/10th the joy of yesterdays.

Anonymous 12:01 PM  


one of my exes named her upper assets in their honor. long enough ago that I don't recall which was which, but they were udderly delicious.

mathgent 12:03 PM  

Enjoyed it. Good crunch, good sparkle, absolutely no junk, 14 long entries, minimal threes. Everything a Saturday should be.

NOAH organizing a couples cruise? Great.

What an inspired term for making a hurried proposal. An elevator pitch.

Anybody doing the Two Not Touch puzzles? I just started two or three days ago and I'm addicted.

Anonymous 12:17 PM  

I thought this was fun. Lots of sparkly clues. Claiming too BROy just because of CARDSHARKS and a football clue or 2? Feeling like Rex is getting worked up just for the sake of getting worked up.

So ridiculous. Rex must work on his Anger Management problem, then go to a good old fashioned movie with a friend. Chill Rex, Chill!

(To quote yesterday's headliner. And yes we're quoting her bc we don't speak of the turd who first wrote those words)

Frantic Sloth 12:21 PM  

@TTrimble 829am "...suddenly hilarious to me. Like a hat on a horse." You're an easy laugh, aren't you? 😘

And the winner of today's EGOT award...wait for it... Hold on, ladies and gentlemen - we have a tie! OPED and "bro-ness" will have to share.

Dang it @Birchbark 859am! I thought I was being clever and original for once. And get your DAMSEL out of my ointment! 😉

@Lewis 929am is back! Hope you and your loved one are well and you can classy-up these comments again!
@Z 1039am Da noive!

@Whatsername 1047am Like you, and some others, I thought POSY was a single flower, so it did the grid hokey-pokey for a while. BTW, LT (Lawrence Taylor) was a (defensive) linebacker for the NY football Giants, never a (offensive) Left Tackle (AFAIK) despite the twinsy initials. 😉
@JD 1137am I didn't know you were musical! Bless your little pea-pickin' heart, if you believe in peas. If not, I say give them a chance. 😉

Re: The NE of the grid. Oddly (and still in the toehold stage), I thought of SELFDRIVINGCAR with only the AR in place. But, having Delete for DISPEL and Pres for FAVE blocked me for too long a time.🙄

Ugh. Can we just assume the winky-face from now on?? This is me, after all.

CDilly52 12:22 PM  

Hand up as a Victoria Coren Mitchell fan, @Coniuratos 7:14 am!!

Lewis 12:34 PM  

@frantic -- I'm back intermittently for the next week or two. The person who I'm being a caregiver for is improving -- yay! Thank you for your kind wishes!

Anonymous 12:41 PM  


back in the mid-80s, or thereabouts, I did a short stint in advert photography, and one shoot was with LT. I was quite surprised at how short he was/is. got a lot of football done with what he had.

CDilly52 12:43 PM  

Thank you! And I put in CARD SHARp, being certain that Mr. Shortz would have made certain to use the correct term. All that little exercise on hubris did for me was leave pNEAD staring at me as I begged the crossword universe to help me figure out why pNEAD made any sense at all or was it that the DANE living in Aarhus, really was living in and arboreally beautiful DALE-ah the strained justifications we foist upon ourselves as we yearn for the elusive happy music! Alas.

Joe Dipinto 12:46 PM  

It deliberately included All Kinds of stuff, All Kinds of people. You could really feel the conscious inclusivity.

@Rex, why don't you consciously post another photo of you with your black friend? Do you only have the one? Photo, I mean.

I like this puzzle because it's not trying to congratulate itself. Long answers are nifty, interesting but not too-difficult cluage across the board. Nicely assembled.

Here's a bunch of women for Rex: GIANluca Buratto singing the catalog aria from "Don Giovanni".

I don't know about the rest of you but I can't wait to usher out 2020.

in the middle of Aar Street,
is a very very very fine Hus.

Frantic Sloth 1:06 PM  

@TJS 1117am Not that I'm an expert (I'm not), but it seems to me that if your knowledge of comic books or graphic novels or whatever the correct term is, stops at the 1960s, maybe 1970s, you would have a point. There have been one or two changes since then, as with most things in life.

@Sixthstone 1118am Right?? Of course everyone has and is entitled to an opinion. I'd wager that many (if not all) of us have disagreed with Rex often. Sometimes, I've wanted to light my hair on fire and run through a gas station. But, those who complain (and often) about all things Rex and still read him smacks of either hate behavior or masochism or maybe both.

@Lews 1234pm Good news all around!

Joe Dipinto 1:11 PM  

@mathgent – I've tried the Two Not Touch puzzle and I like it but I don't do it regularly. I do the Rope Threading puzzle on Sundays, which is similar.

CDilly52 1:13 PM  

A tale of two puzzles, sailing serenely through the entire western half (other than my insistence on CARS SHARpS which gave my DANE from Aarhus a property located in a DAlE (lower case L there). Spent a good few minutes correcting that little stubborn refusal to accept SHAR-K-S. Hubris will out.

@lewis described my experience I the East this morning. A good old fashioned fight to the finish. The. I misread “retries” as “retires” and wondered whether hOOVERS is some urban slang for snoring? Oh the tortured path to justification of weird crossword answers!! My crazy brain went so far as to allow my CARD SHARpS from Aarhus playing cards with my DANE living in the lovely but wholly incorrect DA(L)E to pLEAD with his employees as he “works with the hands (20D). If that little peek into my rationalization skills doesn’t give y’all a chuckle this morning and make you feel superior, I can’t help you. As I write this, I am laughing at self.

Because the west half was so easy for me, I managed an average Saturday time, but what a struggle to finish that eastern half and then have to go let my DANE just be a DANE without his house I the verdant dale, and send him to his bakery to KNEAD his dough. This was a Saturday gem in my opinion. Gave me a tussle and a huge laugh at myself.

Ernonymous 1:23 PM  

I loved seeing Horses' DOOVERS in the puzzle as we just enjoyed a fine plate of horses' doovers on Christmas Eve: artichokes, olives, cheeses, Italian bread, prosciutto etc.

Anonymous 1:26 PM  

That's because the clue is RETRIES, not Retires.
try again = Do over. Plural.

Anonymous 1:44 PM  

Dr. Fiedler was a professor of mine when I attended SUNY Buffalo as an English major in the mid-1970's. I haven't thought about him in years. Thanks for a wonderful memory of a brilliant man.

Whatsername 1:45 PM  

@Frantic: Re Lawrence Taylor, DT. Of course he was! My second - and well deserved - head slap of the day. 😳🤦🏻‍♀️🙄

Anoa Bob 2:15 PM  

With the recent acceptance of cannabis related clues and answers in the NYTXW, such as DOOBIE and REEFER, I'm surprised that 33D TAKE A HIT didn't get clued in that way. Maybe a nice tie-in could have gone "I decided to TAKE A HIT of some DYNAMO weed and, man, did it ever put me in SIESTA city ALL DAY!"

I don't know if there was any influence between the two, but I remember being struck by the similarities between the flamboyant TV star LIBERACE and the even more flamboyant 1950s professional wrestling star Gorgeous George. Here's a five minute video of the Gorgeous one at his best, or worst, depending on your view. (And LIBERACE did have a brother named George who would occasionally appear on the show to play the violin.)

Gorgeous George's mantra was "Win if I can, lose if I must, but always cheat."

old timer 2:28 PM  

DNF here. Had to look up PICOT. Even so, I was at a loss, but when I changed "dumb" to DRAB I got POLA RICE. Never heard of it, but it must be something, so I quit. Only after looking at Mr. Grinch here, I discovered it was POLAR ICE, and the cap in question was geography, not haberdashery.

I am old enough to have been a kid who hated LIBERACE, though my parents seemed to love him. I was a Jack Benny fan, and a fan of every Western show, especially Maverick. I well remember Maverick's femme fatale, who was an expert CARD SHARK.

pabloinnh 3:26 PM  

For those with any interest, today's Saturday Stumper is somewhat on the easier side, meaning it's not impossible.

Anonymous 3:27 PM  

strictly speaking, and why not, it's a blog, the Arctic ice is a SHEET not a cap. save for an occasional teeny island, there is no land beneath the ice. Antarctica, OTOH, has an immense ice cap, and if it and Greenland's melt (remember, Arctic ice is floating, so its melting has no effect on sea level) sea level rise is estimated:
"If all the ice covering Antarctica , Greenland, and in mountain glaciers around the world were to melt, sea level would rise about 70 meters (230 feet). "

all those southern Red states would drown. no more Forrest Gump shrimping. no more Disney World. no more Gulf oil platforms. and a few Blue cities to the North. not to mention most of Oceania and south east Asia. remember that tsunami that hit Indonesia?
"Scientists investigating the damage in Aceh found evidence that the wave reached a height of 24 m (80 ft) when coming ashore along large stretches of the coastline, rising to 30 m (100 ft) in some areas when travelling inland."
the wiki

that lasted for a few minutes. now consider three times the height of water for-freaking-ever.

your future:

Roberto 3:37 PM  

Right in my wheelhouse—a PR for me. Faster than Wednesday this week. Same solving order as Rex—down the W first then the E. Fun solve (as in fast and feeling smart is fun).

pmdm 3:37 PM  

For the obligatory comment about the puzzle itself, I found it pleasantly challenging. I would not give it a POW but certainly think it deserves more praise than found in today's write up (say I a bit ironically).

I dislike some of the picking of nits sometimes found here (even when I chuckle at them). I notice a tendency to to identify ceertain things as childish when they are not or when they are only partly aimed t the young. The producers and script editors tried to broadcast Doctor Who as family entertainment from about year 6. Cartoons shown before movies (like Three Stooges shorts) were meant to be family entertainment (not Saturday childrens' fair). The very term "comics strips" is what I consider a misnomer. (They need not be comic.) The strips by Crumb are hardly for children (and his strip of the Book of Genesis is hardly trivial). Some of the comments seems to pigeon hole strips into a subset of what they really are. (To name a few non-comic strips that intruded on the newspaper strips, I would offer Little Orphan Annie and Dick Tracy. I seem to remember one about a female reporter but I never read the strip and don't remember her name.)

Sandy McCroskey 3:40 PM  

Here is Merriam-Webster too. (You didn’t read very far, O Nameless One):
short for opposite editorial

Sandy McCroskey 4:03 PM  

The piano is a percussion instrument. Yes, it has strings. Which are struck.

Z 4:05 PM  

@TJS - To echo @FS - Get thee to the nunnery... er bookstore and then get back to us.

@Anon - OMG! A spelling mistake! I’m shattered!

@Another Anon - That reply was a little snippy. Apologies. You did clearly say you were looking at the English Language Learner definition and I presumed the worst about you. Unfortunately, anonymous posting is too often the choice of trolls and I unfairly responded as if that was your intent.

A2 - This was answered, but the clue did seem a little odd to me. “A squared” is a pretty common designation for ANN Arbor, Michigan, in Michigan, but it is not something I would expect to be common knowledge or usage outside of the mitten. Granted, U of M gets a lot of national air time in sports circles, but I don’t recall hearing “A squared” on a telecast. I’m a little surprised there weren’t more questions about it.

I do not follow pro football but I do follow lots of sports so football talk is basically unavoidable. The LT is often discussed as being the key position in a good offensive line because of his role in protecting the quarterback’s blindside (apparently there are not enough left handed quarterbacks for their blind sides to matter). I don’t recall ever hearing the same discussion regarding the left guard.

I was walking the dogs and couldn’t help but notice that several neighbors got new vehicles. A couple were different makes of SUVs and another was a new minivan. What I found surprising is that all three neighbors went with white. Not that there’s anything wrong with white, it’s a perfectly inoffensive color. I was reminded of the supposed quote by Henry Ford about the Model T, “you can have any color you want as long as you want black.” I can’t help by wonder why, in 2020, almost 2021, when we have so many options for color, so many choices that aren’t just bland and ho hum, so many people would choose white. I guess people are just more comfortable with same old same old. Personally, I prefer a little more color in my life.

MKV 4:26 PM  

This had the making of a lovely comeback puzzle with so little filled in the top half on first pass, but the south got filled in and then toiled through the northwest until coming to a screeching halt in the northeast. Had AREOLA, MALLET, and RITE, but no hope on PICOT, walked through DULL, DARK and DUMB instead of DRAB, getting no purchase, FAVE never appeared. A miserable ten minutes staring at that corner and it essentially put us off crosswords for the rest of the day. A pity.

kitshef 4:32 PM  

Piano doubters - a piano is both.

Nancy 4:46 PM  

@pmdm -- I had no idea who R. Crumb was, but I looked up his "Book of Genesis" and I'm pretty darned impressed with the quality and power of his drawings. King James could have used him to great advantage.

I also clicked on @Z's link to someone who wrote a "graphic novel" on immigrants from space. The subject doesn't grab me and the illustration (I could only find one) seemed supremely ugly.

I think comics started putting on airs when they alluded to themselves as "graphic novels". Having something serious and important to say doesn't automatically validate your work unless you say it a manner that's worthy of the subject. For instance:

Would you sculpt the Pieta in chopped chicken liver?

I can't judge Rex's course in comics because I don't know which comics he teaches or what he says about them. It seems to me that the course would have to be an EASY A, though.

But OTOH, if he spent an entire semester on "Peanuts" -- now that's a course I'd love to take. Everything funny and everything absurd about The Human Condition can be found in that wonderful strip.

Anonymous 4:47 PM  

@pmdm. Brenda Starr.

Joaquin 4:56 PM  

@Z - White is currently the best-selling color for cars. And there are good, practical reasons for that to be the case: Although counter-intuitive, white is easy to keep clean (or, at least, clean looking), and white is easier to keep cool under a hot sun.

But I'm with you. My personal car is "Rebel Blue" and can be seen from outer space.

Bonnie Buratti 4:57 PM  

One nit here: "picot" is not an embroidery stitch. It's a tatting (lace making) stitch. I had ""daisy" in there - this is a looped stitch in embroidery (although the answer would more correctly be "daisy stitch", so I was was worried). It took me a while to recover from that. Other than that, I thought the puzzle was fine, just a bit on the easy side for Saturday.

Anonymous 4:59 PM  

So, EVERY puzzle must include the same number of references to whites, blacks, hispanics, American Indians, men, women, gays, lesbians, and little people. . . subdivided, of course, by religion. . . . HEAVEN HELP US!! (My abject apology to atheists and agnostics). . . We are in trouble.

Dave S 5:05 PM  

Fun, challenging puzzle. NE was a total mess (literally, since I was doing it on paper), but when I sorted it out was very satsifying reveal. Loved teh self-driving car clue and faux amis is a great thing to know. Thanks @linac800 for the Op-Ed note.

I love Elvis Costello, but wish Rex had used the opportunity for the Sparks answer to include my favorite, most-deserving-to-be-more-famous band. Even took me years t figure out they weren't even English.

mbr 5:12 PM  

@TTrimble 8:29 re Faux Amis example: "entrée" in American English refers to the main course, while "entrée" in French means the appetizer.

A 5:17 PM  

Happy Boxing Day to all who celebrate it and see this late post!

Second time trying and still no blue, and links rejected, even with instructions graciously provided by @JC66 and more study on No fair -I need a DOOVER DOOVER.

I was inspired by @burtonkd's rebuttal of @kitshcef's great corrections to @pabloinn's FAUX agreement with OFL. Here is an argument for even more inclusiveness:

So is harp also a string and percussion? And do violins become percussion instruments when the strings are plucked? Organ: keyboard or wind? I could go on but will skip to the refrain.

YES, YES! I was very happy to finish a Saturday puzzle fair and square after I was certain I'd have to cheat. Not my first Saturday but it’s still fairly rare, especially for a "medium'. (from yesterday - prefer BONEIN so I can gnaw on it then carefully share with my DAMSEL Malamute.)

Didn't notice the brosomeness or any lack of SPARKS and had no idea the puzzle was not fun until I read Rex. Also totally disagree about DAMSEL. I remember brave ones from fairy tales, like these 10 Grimms’ Girls:

Maybe I’ll figure out the embedding thing by 2021.
Peace anyway,

Ed Norton 5:19 PM  

Swanee River is a lyric from Old Folks at Home, a minstrel song written by Stephen Foster. It’s likely that Rex doesn’t know this because he didn’t throw a temper tantrum about it.

A 5:24 PM  

Hey, I'm blue! One problem solved. -Mimi

A 5:46 PM  

Well I'm blue - tried again (with preview) the 10 Grimms' Girls link but no luck. I see @kitschef posted the piano one, though. Yay! -Mimi

Ethan Taliesin 5:47 PM  

What about "Embroidery loop"? That's not a very manly thing. Neither is LIBERACE come to think of it.

TTrimble 6:21 PM  

Thanks for your contribution. But I'm not sure that counts, as "entrée" as part of the English lexicon is really a loanword. My understanding of FAUX AMIS is that you have two apparent cognates, two separate words living within their respective languages, like "medicine" and "médecin", which despite appearances mean quite distinct things, even if the meanings are connected in some way. (The French word means "doctor", as in Médecins Sans Frontières.) There's a nice long list of English-French faux amis here -- a list which shows just how ordinary the phenomenon is. We have from @kitshef 9:11 AM a great example of a Spanish-English pair.

There's a reasonably satisfying explanation for how "entrée" came to mean a main course in American English; see Merriam-Webster here.

Frantic Sloth 6:21 PM  

@Anon 459pm You forgot Asians.

@A (Mimi) Congrats! Now you are of the body. Bwaahahahaha!
Are you trying to be the "anti-Z" with that moniker?

Joe Dipinto 6:23 PM  

Australian actress Geneviève Picot is up to something in 1991's "Proof" (with two actors who didn't have much of a career later).

TTrimble 6:28 PM  

You may have realized this already, but R. (Robert) Crumb is also the creator of Keep on Truckin', which I would bet money you've seen. You could see it all over the place in the late 60's and early 70's.

Of course, those underground comics of his do not display his considerable skill as a graphic artist, which you see in Book of Genesis.

mbr 6:43 PM  

TTrimble: You are right - my incorrect example being that misunderstanding the French word may cause anglophones to get confused when trying to order from a French waiter. Not quite the same as a faux ami. Better examples are "bras" (arms in French) and "bras" (in English), or "attendre" (to wait/to wait for in French) and to attend (in English), or "location" (rental in French) and "location" (in English).

TTrimble 7:33 PM  

Yes, you have some fine examples there. In particular, "attendre" resonates with me. Thanks!

You were careful to say earlier that the received meaning of "entrée" in American English is different from the French (in the context of dining out). From what I gather, the understanding in British English is closer to that of the French.

A 8:23 PM  

@Frantic -Thanks, and heavens no, I don't have the chops for that gig! I was inspired by @Z's brevity, however, and A refers to a favorite relative. Ooh, Almost forgot, also a favorite friend, who is Asian. ;-)

Frantic Sloth 9:07 PM  

@A 823pm Ah. I gather by "brevity", you refer to @Z's handle, not his average comment. 😆
Hey, now! I kid the Z! 😘

anon 9:40 PM  

Yes! Not to mention that Annie Duke is one of the most famous poker players in the world.

Unknown 2:17 PM  

Its OPinion/EDitorial page...

Eric Weber 6:13 AM  

Found it to be a reasonably fun puzzle - getting a little put off, Rex, by your obsession with, I don't know, political correctness? Trying to be modern? It feels strained, as if you're with the thought police. Not enough females - c'mon!

thefogman 10:17 AM  

I liked this one. Plenty of clever misdirecty cluing. Crunchy and fun.

Diana, LIW 1:16 PM  

Live and learn, huh? Still finding words I don't know! So, I missed a few today. OK

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

spacecraft 1:19 PM  

YES, the NE was thorny. My problem was 12-down. ELEVATOR music, sure (ick!). But what on the POLARICE-capped earth is ELEVATOR "pitch?" That's a new one.

The DOOVERS sound like they'd be great neighbors for the Simpsons. Coincidental that the word "queen" should appear in the clue for APIAN--which crosses the OPEDPAGE kerfuffle. Also nice that AIKMAN was one of those that the LEFTTACKLE protected; not, hopefully, by running smack into him as he did here.

Hardly a DAMSEL to be found, as OFC notes (though he's too gender-sensitive, IMO)--but we'll cheerfully take India ARIE for the day. In fact, ALLDAY.

Pretty solid, overall, despite the desperate-looking OID and the RMK at 2-down (that last forgiven, as it was my way in!). Birdie.

Anonymous 1:33 PM  

5D made up for the four impossible answers. Clever!

Burma Shave 2:55 PM  


his RITE and LEFTTACKLEs admit
they're DRIVING DYNAMOs away


Diana, LIW 3:04 PM  

@Spacey - An "elevator pitch" is a 1-minute talk (pitch) that you can deliver to someone trapped in an elevator with you for a 4-floor ride, thus obtaining a new customer. (In reality, you don't need the elevator - it merely means a 1-minute wrap-up description of the thing you are selling.)

Lady Di

rondo 3:11 PM  

So OFL doesn't like cars, doesn't like white guys, and forgot Troy AIKMAN exists. Must be lonely on that island. ONE thing he's right about is CARDSHARpS; I left that ONE square blank for a while just in case the actual word was in play. Though 99% of folks say CARDSHARKS.

Only problem here was having 'LAY' as the chip maker before NEC came around.


Pretty easy Sat-puz. Anyone wanna but an Eb TUBA? I've got ONE for sale.

leftcoaster 5:10 PM  

An okay puzzle for a Saturday. Long downs and acrosses again were helpful.

Got the bulk of it, but needed some DO-OVERS: side BETS instead of LATE BETS (wouldn't they be no-nos at the track in any case?), STeps instead of STAIR, host instead of RITE (eucharist could be both, I think), and wanted FAUX pas, though it didn’t work with FAUX AMIS.

YES, ELEVATOR is a kind of music, but didn’t know it was also a kind of pitch.

leftcoaster 6:42 PM  

Eucharist is not only a RITE, it’s also a definition of Host, the actual bread or wine.

spacecraft 6:53 PM  

Thanks @Lady Di. First I ever heard of it.

stpaulite 12:16 PM  

Rex, I agree with you. Bro-factor was off the charts for this one.

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