Tenor part in Donizetti's Don Pasquale / SAT 12-5-20 / Comics character with pug nose / Informal name for Vespa mandarinia / Nickname for a man whose name means merciful / Squiggly musical symbols

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Constructor: Brendan Emmett Quigley

Relative difficulty: Medium to Medium-Challenging, depending on how well you know the work of John Le Carré (untimed)

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: Bathymetry (42D: Bathymetry measurements => DEPTHS) —
Bathymetry (/bəˈθɪmətr/) is the study of underwater depth of ocean floors or lake floors. In other words, bathymetry is the underwater equivalent to hypsometry or topography. The name comes from Greekβαθύς (bathus), "deep", and μέτρον (metron), "measure".Bathymetric (or hydrographic) charts are typically produced to support safety of surface or sub-surface navigation, and usually show seafloor relief or terrain as contour lines (called depth contours or isobaths) and selected depths (soundings), and typically also provide surface navigational information. Bathymetric maps (a more general term where navigational safety is not a concern) may also use a Digital Terrain Modeland artificial illumination techniques to illustrate the depths being portrayed. The global bathymetry is sometimes combined with topography data to yield a Global Relief ModelPaleobathymetry is the study of past underwater depths. (wikipedia)
• • •

Normally don't care for the highly-sequestered corners type of construction, but it turns out these corners were pretty easy to get into and so didn't feel like four separate puzzles, the way they can when the entry point from other parts of the grid is exceeding narrow (say, one square wide). This one kept its feeling of flow from section to section, which I like and appreciate. The NE looks like it would be the hardest to get into from the center, since you'd just have a few not very telling letters at the back ends of those long Downs to help you, but today, BARBECUE and ETAILERS were easy to pick up even with very little help from the crosses, so I just zoomed right up into that corner (although, as you can see, I "mis"spelled BARBEQUE at first pass—please note that my software is currently accepting the "wrong" spelling and redlining the "correct" spelling of this word (11D: Occasion for smoking). If I hadn't had to give into QED, no way I put a "Q" there) (30A: Letters for a proof reader) (because QED, short for quod erat demonstrandum, are letters you might see at the end of a mathematical proof). The toughest part for me was actually the entire middle of the grid. Had to work for all four of those marquee 12-letter answers that cross each other around that center black square. Frustrating. Here's a shot of the grid from the moment of peak frustration:

Felt pretty confident heading out of that NW corner, which was no trouble at all—put down MESAS (4D: Features of Hopi lands in Arizona) and then educatedly guessed GOYAS (19A: The "Black Paintings" and others), which was correct and got me IN SYNC, etc. But after that, yeesh, even getting the full front ends of those long Downs didn't help. MURDER HORNET is what happens when you make a puzzle at the peak of what turns out to be a very short-lived media phenomenon (7D: Informal name for Vespa mandarinia). Historians will be able to date the creation of this puzzle to summer 2020, is what I'm saying. I haven't thought about the MURDER HORNET since that week earlier this year when everyone (on social media) was guffawing in that "2020, amirite?" kind of way about this insect. So far had the hornet receded into my memory, that even having MURDER in place did nothing for me. The absurd Latin (I assume) taxonomical clue did nothing either. To me a Vespa is a motorbike. And GEORGE SM- ... honestly, the clue suggested totally different genres / hero types to me (21D: Long-running fictional hero who made his debut in "Call for the Dead"). I was thinking some kind of franchise-anchoring "hero," but it's just ... a spy who was in a lot of novels. This is all to say that I know very well who GEORGE SMILEY is and still did not suspect he was the answer here (at least not immediately) even when I had GEORGE SM- in place. Further, as you can see above, I had TONTO instead of TANTO (I assumed that they had found a non-Lone Ranger way to clue that word, finally). So TONTO blocked MOTHER NATURE for a bit. The other musical answer, QUARTER RESTS, I have heard of but couldn't get to from the info I had in the grid (36A: Squiggly musical symbols). So, in somewhat unexpected fashion, the puzzle was hard in the middle and easy in the corners. Weird.

Ultimately, I LIKED IT. It's very much a Saturday, and probably above average in terms of quality. Saturdays are almost always gonna feel like sloggier Fridays to me. I usually approach them with a "let's just get through this" attitude. When you put the premium on difficulty and not entertainment, the result is less enjoyable to me. Hence Friday > Saturday. But this one had more nice / original moments than most Saturdays. What's more, it had no real weak spots. Grid was solid and varied and interesting throughout. 

Five more things:
  • 5D: Dashes (off) (JETS) — wrote this in first, only ... I thought the answer was JOTS (like when you "dash (off)" a note?? Weird to have the totally wrong answer get me three correct letters including a "J"
  • 6D: Start of some thoughts shared on social media (IMO) — wrote in IDK. I virtually never see IMO ... except in crosswords, obviously
  • 50A: Dive (SWOOP) — off the SW-, wrote in SWOON. This left me with DENTHS for the [Bathymetry measurements]. I was very much prepared not to question it; figured it must be some horrible technical term I'd never heard of. Then I thought "no, it's *too* awful," and then I rethought the crosses and SWOOP presented itself
  • 24D: Heebie-jeebies (JITTERS) — As you can see in the partially filled grid, above, I had JI- and still no idea this was JITTERS. To me, "heebie jeebies" is the creeps, whereas JITTERS are the shakes. The former comes more from fear of something threatening, ghostly, monstrous, Lovecraftian, the latter from, say, coffee, or anxiety / nervousness about something more quotidian. Shudder with fear, heebie-jeebies; shake with anxiety, JITTERS. That is how my brain taxonomizes this stuff, it seems.
  • 39A: Tenor part in Donizetti's "Don Pasquale" (ERNESTO) — clue may as well have been [Some guy's name]. 
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Dale Gribble 6:39 AM  

It should be noted that Lon Adams, the guy who developed the recipe for Slim Jims, died of Covid-19 last Saturday at the age of 95.

ShannonJ 7:04 AM  

Ended up with an average time, but I just wasn't on the same wavelength as this puzzle and it felt harder than it was. Not sure why. Looking back at the grid it seems o-kay.

BARBEQUE is the other KEBAB. How do you want me to spell it today, constructor? But, QED was my favorite clue/answer pair of the day.

Agree with Rex on JITTERS.

Lewis 7:13 AM  

My immediate thought upon looking at the grid was how elegant the design was, then the scent of terror crept in as I saw the four corner islands, and that it was a BEQ Saturday.

That bit of terror, it turns out, was justified, as this filled in bits and drabs, with only an occasional splat, from the SW, through the center, then the NE and NW, and finally the SE, and thank heavens for RELAID there, which eluded me for a long time before the light bulb LIT, and which begat DEVILISH and I LIKED IT.

Would you look at the skill that went into making this puzzle? All the white (only 29 blocks), yet hardly a hint of junk, a preponderance of in-the-language answers, and razor-sharp witty cluing that so effectively masked them. Brendan is approaching 200 puzzles in the NYT over nearly a quarter century, his puzzles the whole time glistening with spark and edge, . What a talent. I am amazed.

And eminently grateful for this most enjoyable tussle today. Thank you, sir!

RJ 7:23 AM  

Tougher than usual BEQ for me because of the center. I filled in the 4 corners but got stuck on the long downs. Had a bunch of missteps but still finished well below my average Saturday.

ChuckD 7:29 AM  

You build a highly segmented grid and add GEORGE SMILEY as your marquee entry? The final solve was more enjoyable than I anticipated upon first look - agree with @Lewis and Rex that there was little to no glue here and the independent corners you normally get from a grid like this were well integrated by the cluing.

Not a lot of sparkle with things like QR CODES, DULL PAIN and UPS STORE. Did like LINE EM UP - although initially put in Here’s how - and MOTHER NATURE was cool. Liked the SE corner most.

Cold, heavy rain forecast all day today. This puzzle did little to brighten things up.

Eric NC 7:40 AM  

@rex the motor scooter you mention was Italian and named after the hornet Vespa because of its sound.

Anonymous 7:51 AM  

Know nothing about opera but inferred from 39-A clue that it was likely some Italian guy’s name not just some guy’s name.

OffTheGrid 7:56 AM  

A typical solve for me on Saturday. That means a few checks, a couple of googles, fairly long solve time. I liked it a lot. Speaking of a lot, MUCHO is my only nit today. I finished in the SW and resisted this answer as long as I could. It should have been "a lot, SP." Not because it was difficult but because MUCHO is Spanish, not English. It just irked me a bit.

pabloinnh 7:57 AM  

NW went in right away, ditto the NE, and I thought the whole thing would take about ten minutes, but I was soon disabused of that notion, as an answer here and there was it. The "vespa" had me thinking motor scooter and then from somewhere I remembered that that scooter was named for a HORNET, and away I went again. The MURDERHORNET has been in the news lately because they tracked one back to the nest, which was pretty amazing.

WILLIES before JITTERS, but I like both terms, and I should have know QUARTERREST instantly, as I've tried to draw one many times when we were changing note values in a piece. I've known a CLEM, but only one. An ERNESTO, no TANTO. No guess for me on GOYAS but the black paintings are more than a little disturbing. Ewww.

Very nice Saturday, BEQ. You seldom disappoint. Me gusto (needs an accent on the o) MUCHO.

vtspeedy 8:08 AM  

I agree with Rex - this puzzle felt like a whole, even with 4 relatively separate quadrants. The NE corner gave up easily to me, then I worked steadily through the center to the SW, back across to the SE, then wrested the NE into place. I got the hornet half from the Vespa clue, but forgetfully thought they were killers, not murderers. When I realized that mistake, I had the ending “im” of 1 across and slim Jim quickly unlocked the rest of the corner. 15 minutes start to finish, clean and done. Pleased with myself. Nice puzzle!

Anonymoose 8:10 AM  

Are YESLETS tiny yeses?

@Rex appears to like "J" today.


28D is shaky, conflating TORTE and tort. Different words, different meanings, different spellings.

Laura 8:11 AM  

Quite daunting at first but more and more fun as I got into it. Loved the clues for qed an mother nature. A few others had some juice as well. That's. The right way to make Friday tougher.

Mohair Sam 8:30 AM  

SLUGGO is still around? Holy cow! That strip goes back to my childhood (a long, long time ago). I wonder if Nancy still torments him.

GEORGE SMILEY an all time favorite character here. I guess he ended with the Cold War, yes?

Always love me a BEQ puzzle, and this one sure didn't disappoint - what Rex said.

bocamp 8:34 AM  

@Brendan, thank you for this beautifully clued treasure hunt! It was quite a workout, which is fine by me. :)

Breezed thru the NW, Great Lakes and NE, but came virtually to a standstill in the rest of the country. One of those puzzles where one might think, I'll never get this one, but knowing full well that with persistence, it will eventually fall. It did, but in well over av. time. The kind of challenge I enjoy, tho. :)

New: "Ernesto"; "Selma" (as clued); "murder hornet" (as clued); "George Smiley" (as clued); "Lunesta"; "I've" (as clued); "tanto".

Hazy: "Slim Jim"; "quarter rests"; "Sobe"; "QR codes".

Missteps: "petite" for "peewee".

Meh: "dull pain"; "relaid".

Side-eye: "lip out" / "tire out".

Fav clues/answers: "line 'em up"; "ideate"; "deg"; "guns"; "jewel"; "Mother Nature"; "Clem"; "opium"; "dancer"; "yes lets"; "jets"; "lit"; "barbeque"; "jitters"; "torte"; "tis"; "ease into"; "goodie"; "mucho"; "swell"; "skis"; "meet".

WOTD: murder hornet

LOTD: Latin

SOTD: "Jewel" - You Were Meant For Me

FOTD: Slim Jim

"Pee Wee" Reese

Love to "ideate".


Peace Pace Pax Paz 🕊

Teedmn 8:51 AM  

I had a mostly opposite experience from Rex. I couldn't make any headway in the NW so I looked for a fill-in-the-blank clue and saw the Gandhi quote at 40A. I thought "aim" filled the blank well but no crosses worked. I saw GOODIE and DEPTHS and decided GOD worked there. RELAID, DEVILISH, voilà, SE finished.

I thought 31D might be Mon, so 31A would be...MOTHER NATURE, which I splatzed in with no crosses (though I was pretty sure 25D was LUNESTA). I eventually changed Mon to MAy to the abbreviated MAR.

QR CODES, I know what they are but can never dig out the term when I need it. But while OPIUM's clue misled me for a bit, DANCER's clue didn't so the SW wasn't too bad (RLS, gimme). The NE was easy except for having Rex's BARBEcUE for a while. (My spell-check doesn't like the "C" version at all.)

Thank goodness for the ubiquity of the MURDER HORNET (I'm guessing not too many people say that!) It let me finish up the NW, even with Rex's JoTS messing with me. I was worried that 14A was going to be "bottoM UP" and we would have a bottom/bottoms controversy all day but whew, BEQ didn't let me down. Although I've done plenty of drinking in my day, I have never said (or wanted to say) LINE 'EM UP! That would be more than a DULL PAIN creator, methinks.

BEQ, thanks for a tough (near half-hour) solve, just like I like 'em!

Frantic Sloth 8:59 AM  

Grid art (Hey, @Lewis!) rotating counterclockwise with each of four boots taking turns kicking me in the caboose pretty much sums up the effect this puzzle had on me.
The gaps in between raised, then dashed any hopes of a respite and the slaughter was complete.
5 (center and 4 corners) against 1 hardly seems sporting, but dang it if I don't love a tussle!

Challenge accepted!

It was stop and go all the way. Tentative first steps...door slammed in face. Head of steam...brick wall. Express train of thought...dead man's switch activated.

NW corner was the last to crumble. It was not alone. It felt like I kept going to pieces and then reassembled by elves at every turn.

BARBEcUE/BARBEQUE. Tomayto/Tomahto. I say the first for both. My iPad autocorrect agrees, but it's an ass. So, I guess this is your basic "all hat, no cattle" argument.
Never mind.

MURDER HORNET. Are there two words that better illustrate the rearview mirror apocalypse that 2020 has been? Maybe, but I think not.


Naughty Chiffon


kitshef 9:08 AM  

Today, we get two puzzles. One has clever words and brilliant, DEVILISH clues, and was wonderful.

The other – the one in the lower center - is just awful. ERNESTO, QUARTER RESTS, LUNESTA, TANTO, TIS, GENIES. Ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh. And while using a scientific name in your clue is perfectly fine, you have to italicize it or it’s quadruple-ugh.

Hand up for JoTS before JETS, wIllieS before JITTERS (the former is a far better answer), BARBEcUE before BARBEQUE, and SWOOn before SWOOP

Frayed Knot 9:11 AM  

Could not let go of mother figure for way too long. Too many of the letters were correct.
Lots of musical stuff but thankfully not the music that BEQ usually favors.
Fun and clever.

Z 9:12 AM  

The beasts get a big shout-out this morning because I was stuck stuck stuck and they were giving me the “I need to pee” eyes so out into the cold we went. Came back after a jolt of bracing fresh air and boom boom boom done. So big thanks to Zeke and Lulu.

Started in the NE with LIMBER and it fell easily. Unfortunately -URE and -ES were not helping me get into the middle. I grimaced in multi-layered disgust as I wrote in UPS STORE, which was enough of an anchor to get me MESAS and JETS to GOYAS and the NW turned out to be only slightly harder to fill. The MUR- got me MURDER but I was locked in on scooters so thought people might call them MURDER cycles. Well, hey, it was a thought but it also didn’t help me with middle section. I knew the Woman clue was going to be key, but no IDEATion was happening. GOD answered my prayers in the SE and it was no more DEVILISH than the other two corners. RELAID was thrusting up into the middle but I’m into sci fi not spy fi, so -ILEY was doing nothing for me either. At this point I had three corners done, TIRE OUT and DEAR TO tentatively in the middle, and only everyone’s favorite initialized author RLS and SNOuTS in the SW and nothing else was looking plausible anywhere.

Walked back in, visualized some squiggly lines and QUARTER RESTS was an immediate D’Oh moment. QR CODES are a classic solution in search of a problem so I don’t feel bad about forgetting them, but that Q made the answer obvious and the SW was now as easy as the other corners. The first R helped me fix a tentative sAt to MAR, MOTHER NATURE was suddenly obvious, and all that was left was figuring out what was in the bottle.

@Lewis has pointed out the good stuff, which is plentiful, so I’ll focus on the demerits. At least for me this was four mini puzzles. Only the SW and middle were connected enough to feel like they flowed together. Second, big Ughs to UPS STORE and LUNESTA, and a regular old Ugh to GEORGE SMILEY. That’s a lot of real estate for trivia. LUNESTA is the worst of the lot because it follows the modern drug naming algorithm of a suggestive phoneme with random letters attached. Drug brand names are every bit as bad as random rap star name. To be clear, all are crossworthy, but long trivia answers are not my thing.
My other demerit is going to the hustle for the DANCER clue. I learned that dance in junior high gym class. It oozes strong 1976 vibes. I have a hard time believing the clue resonates with anyone under the age of 55, maybe 50.

RooMonster 9:20 AM  

Hey All !
Dang, I said to myself, after the first pass through got me close to nothing, this is gonna be a toughie! Was tempted to cheat a time or three, by held off, and was actually able to complete the puz in 32 minutes! And get this, error free! *Pats self on back*

My solve went NE, SW, middle, SE, more middle, NW. That NW was my toughest spot. Had Rex's JoTS for a bit. LIP OUT a new term for me. Wanted "Near sink" or something. 😀 SLUGGO, wowsers. Is (the comic) Nancy still made? New ones, or Reruns?

Grid has Rotational Symmetry, which means no matter which way you look at the grid (turn it to the right or left, turn it upside down), it'll appear the same (unfilled, that is.) Doesn't happen too often, but neat when you see one.

Laughed at the Motor Scooter comments. PG word for MotherFucker. It gets s chuckle when you watch a movie on regular TV and they say "Motor Scooter". (Well, used to be, now they either Bleep it, or change/drop the wording, and you see the actors mouth not jiving with what's being said.)

Having M______TURE for the center answer, wrote in MisadvenTURE. Har, get it?

No F's (I don't LIKED IT) 😋

GILL I. 9:22 AM  

Is CLEM Kadiddlehopper merciful?
OK...so the only SLIM JIM I know is that little wedge thing you used to open your car door when you stupidly (like I) would lock your keys in the car. I got stuck in Berkely once and a homeless man came to my rescue.
True story: I rode on the back of a little Vespa in Rome. A very handsome waiter offered me a ride back to my hotel because the Fiat I had rented broke down. He was on his break, smoking a cigarette and looked at my mournful face. He stubs his cigarette out, asked where I was staying, and whisked me off to my hotel. Gave me the heebie-jeebies. I don't think he stopped at one single light but I got there in one piece. It was he that told me that a Vespa makes the sound of a wasp and that's how they got their name. He asked me for a date but I told him I was buzzzzy that night. Hah. Anyway because of him I remembered the HORNET. I had the U up top and dang.....I put in MURDER lickety split...Yay me.
On to the rest. I LIKED IT. YES, it was DEVILISH in parts but you expect that from BEQ. I needed a GOOGLE for QR CODE but I did the Fandango when I got GEORGE SMILEY.
Don't you love MOTHER NATURE? Right next to JEWEL and DEAR TO and GENIES?
This was a GOODIE.... yessireebob.

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 9:37 AM  

GOYA's black paintings are worth going to Spain for. They were not painted for an aristocratic client, he painted them on the walls of his house, strictly for himself, when he was old and presumably rather fed up with everything and everybody.

So what does QR stand for? Quahog Risotto? Quality resistance? Quivering Raptors?

Unknown 9:38 AM  

"Saturdays are almost always gonna feel like sloggier Fridays to me."
Which begs the question, rex, why then do you torture yourself on a weekly basis?
Skip the Saturday, pour yourself a drink, LINEEMUP, and you'll be in a better mood!
Or run to the UPSSTORE and get your Christmas gifts sent out.

This was one of the must fun puzzles I have done over the past year. On my first go-around I only had a handful, but one by one the answers jumped into my mind. Just shy of 30 minutes (unlike rex, I do time my slower efforts), with a warm mug of green tea & honey, the perfect start to a wet, rainy Saturday.

Maybe because I'm on a spy novel binge (currently reading The Ipcress File) but GEORGESMILEY came to mind when I only had three letters. He's such an iconic & long-standing literary figure that rex's complaints are overblown.

And MURDERHORNET was pretty topical. Will we remember them in ten years' time? I guess it all depends on if we can eradicate them now . . . .

To Z @ 9:12 Re the hustle, while I was never a fan (we're likely in the same age cohort), I thought it was a fair and amusing clue. Would you complain about the Charleston or the Lindy Hop being dated? I think they're all fair game, & this was perfect for Saturday-level cluing.

Richardf8 9:46 AM  

A little in-joke BEQ threw in there referring to an April Fool’s strip the current Writer/Artist on Nancy dis a few years back.

Sixthstone 9:48 AM  

Great puzzle. Thought-provoking but not overly challenging. I have a few quibbles as folks have pointed out, but overall, this was elegant, interesting, and made for a pleasant solve.

Seemed hard, but I finished in near-record time.

Sami 9:49 AM  

I had a few humpy kinds of moments and a complete stall at QR codes, but other than that...this puzzle sent me. Not as gushy as @Lewis, but some slight gratitude is definitely in order, since I only flubbed RLS and the rest eventually fell into place.

I still don't really get the clue for Temple offerings. DEG for degrees? From Temple U? Ok, but ugh. And now I have to read a book about George Smiley, or check an Opera with Ernesto, both things I will not enjoy, IMO.

This was about half my Saturday time, so I don't agree that it was medium hard. I like it when I look at "VESPA mandarina," and my first thought is how am I going to dredge up some knowledge about an orange Vespa? And then after stumbling around the puzzle trying to make it all fit randomly, it occurs to me that a Vespa is a wasp in Latin, which is heavily represented here. I got with the program on all the mother naturey things, like rip tides and Opium and other stuff that can kill you. There's not a theme here, but for a themeless there are some threads that tie it all together.

And GOLF! It's back. And I love Tai Babilonia. Missing Issa Rae today, but it's all good.

mathgent 10:00 AM  

Very tough for me. I'm wondering why. Usually it's because there are a lot of mystery clue/entries but there were only eight here, not excessive.

It made me sweat too much to say it was enjoyable but there was plenty of good stuff. My favorite was the clue for OBOIST (One found among the reeds). Not Moses.

BEQ is one of the best. Always good to see one of his creations.

Carola 10:02 AM  

A rare day when I say "easy" to @Rex's "medium" or more. The top row Downs gave me all I needed to LINE 'EM UP crosswise all the way to the bottom. Enjoyed it.

Anonymous 10:07 AM  

Only Smiley I'm familiar with starting with a "G" is Guy Smiley - anyone?

TJS 10:11 AM  

I am waiting for " Kadiddlehopper" to be an entry in a 14 by 14.

I have this love/hate thing going on with BEQ puzzles, and this one was no exception. Had almost nothing for sure in the entire North. Mesas ? Rim out ? Spent far too much time trying to remember if AlCapp had a pug nose. Pretty sure speed solvers don't confront an issue like that. Deli, Yes ! RLS, and Monopoly got me dancer, either, and snoots worked with mucho and meet. Then, zip, nada, fuggedaboutit.

Coffee break. Return to the battle, and somehow decided to see if good old George Smiley could possibly fit. My only chance with BEQ is to get totally into a mind-meld with him to have a chance, then things start to pop. This one gave me one awesomw surprise after another. Great Saturday, thank you, Brendan.

The playa ? Yes, lets...

Anonymous 10:12 AM  

loved this, even loved initially having Beetle Bailey off the iley rather than George Smiley

bocamp 10:12 AM  

@Rex, as did you, had "jots" before "jets". Don't do social media (unless this blog is considered to be social media?), so didn't know IDK (I do know now, idkn) LOL - Imo/imho is occasionally used on this blog, but don't recall seeing idk. Good point re: "jitters", now that you mention it. Had a bit of "side-eye", but didn't think it thru.

If "QEB" was a thing that would have been a fun answer for BEQ to sneak into the puz. Nevertheless, still an excellent clue for the win.

Looking at the shape of the blacks, thot it was possibly a nod to "jewel", as in a diamond shaped pendant.

Thx to those who pointed out the origin of the "Vespa" motor scooter moniker.

@OffTheGrid 7:56 AM - yes, did have a bit of side-eye for "mucho", but thot this is a word that is not unusual to hear fairly frequently. Often use it myself. So, no need for the Sp. caveat with this one.

@pabloinnh 7:57 AM wrote: "NW went in right away, ditto the NE, and I thought the whole thing would take about ten minutes, but I was soon disabused of that notion, as an answer here and there was it."

That pretty well sums up my thinking at that juncture, and subsequent experience, as well.

"Clem" Labine

@Frantic Sloth 8:59 AM - nice catch on the "boots"; my sentiments, exactly! 😂

@GILL I. 9:22 AM - Love the anecdote! And thx for the heads-up: forgot all about Red Skelton as "Clem" Kadiddlehopper

Peace Pace Pax Paz 🕊

Frantic Sloth 10:22 AM  


A. Nancy
B. Deliverance

Agree with Rex, et.al. about JITTERS.

@Z 912am "QR CODES are a classic solution in search of a problem" - Amen! I use them on occasion, but more often than not have no idea what to do next after scanning. So it's their fault. ❤️ to Zeke and Lulu.

@GILL 922am You Red Skeltoned us, you sneaky Pete! Love the Vespa story - sad for the HORN(ET)y waiter, but fun for everyone else!

Like @TJS 1011am I'm learning that I also have a love/hate relationship with BEQ. (Only time will tell which side I'll favor, but today is one in the love column.)

Note to LW: I got your message (rarely check that email) and appreciate your kind words, but I'm sensing a trap. 🤷‍♀️

RooMonster 10:22 AM  

"Things we're thankful for"

Firefighters and Ambulance/EMTs, who never had a slow down, and still did their jobs faithfully while dealing with unmasked people during adversity and tragedy.

RooMonster Being Thankful Guy

Anonymous 10:25 AM  

Is anyone really surprised how BEQ spells barbecue?

burtonkd 10:25 AM  

Absolutely opposite experience of Rex, with this being 5 different puzzles, since the lower center is PPP central: ERNESTO, SELMA, TAI crossing GEORGESMILEY, LUNESTA. This left no chance of glueing the corners together. Also in that area, I liked MURDERHORNET, but tough as clued. Also, TANTO is an Italian synonym for MOLTO, but it is NOT part of any standard musical terms. ASSAI does show up in tempo indications.

The proper names were not in my wheelhouse, so got stuck and googled a couple of WOEs. Confirmed my suspicion that I didn't know them and peeked at a couple of others I could have solved - always disappointing.

I did like a lot of the puzzle on second glance. SNOOTS mirroring the pug-nosed SLUGGO. Had PAPER before DEBIT. In NYC, they banned plastic, but then allowed it during early COVID. Now I'm never sure if I need to bring my own bag, then end up buying reuseables - good to have. The agreeable (mother?)nature theme of YESLETS and TIS.

More familiar with the dangerous ripTIDE, but just doomscrolled a couple of REDTIDE articles.

Andy S 10:26 AM  

Is it just me, or does the term MOTHERNATURE conjure up the Chiffon margarine commercials of yore for everyone over 50.


Joaquin 10:32 AM  

@pabloinnh and @kitshef re: "WILLIES before JITTERS".

Al Franken, long before Obamacare, complained that his health insurance covered the heebie-jeebies but not the willies (or maybe it was the other way around). Whichever, it certainly didn't cover the bullet he took for the Dems.

Nancy 10:32 AM  

When 1A is a snack brand name and 1D is a comics character, you've LINEd EM UP in a way guaranteed to give me a DULL PAIN. Proper names have always been DEAR TO this constructor, and they caused me no end of suffering. (Notice that today, I'm not putting "suffering" in quotes.)

But despite esoterica like MURDER HORNET; SLIM JIM; SLUGGO; SOBE; ERNESTO and GEORGE SMILEY as clued (put him in "The Spy Who Came In From the Cold" and I'm fine); I finished this bear of a puzzle with no cheats.

adoRed instead of DEAR TO (33A) led to diScover instead of EASE INTO (34D) which led to Mon before MAR (31D). This kept me from seeing JITTERS, OPIUM, DANCER, QUARTER RESTS -- need I go on? What a mess my grid was in the mid to southwest.

And meanwhile, I'm screaming at MOTHER EARTH: "Fit, dammit!!! Why won't you fit???" Finally I changed to MOTHER NATURE.

The cleverest clue for me was GENIES (35A). And thank heavens that someone I know well takes LUNESTA to sleep. I might not have otherwise known it, just as I didn't know SOBE and SLIM JIM and MURDER HORNET. And without LUNESTA, I never would have solved this diabolical puzzle. You notice I say diabolical, and not DEVILISH. DEVILISH implies playfulness and humor. Diabolical implies pure evil :)

puzzlehoarder 10:42 AM  

If every day of the week was this good I might actually go back to doing puzzles on a regular basis.

After a pushover start in the NW and 7D being a total gimme this turned into a solid Saturday workout. The SW was what really slowed me down. I tried to make DULLACHE work for the longest time. It seems much more in the language and in keeping with high quality this puzzle demonstrated throughout. That's a minor nit and once OPIUM supported PAIN (ironic) the SW snapped into place as clearly as the rest.

Work is slowing down with winter. The last couple of months we're so busy I didn't solve at all. What time I've had for puzzles has been taken over by the SB.

Steve M 10:49 AM  

BEQ rules again!

Paul Statt 10:50 AM  

A Latin phrase is a foolproof way to win an argument; to prove that I'm right. Quod erat demonstrandum.

Anonymous 10:59 AM  

It was the dems who loaded the gun and fired. They killed Frankenstein. Everyone from Michelle Goldberg writing in The Times, where she called that sophomoric snap, “ utterly dehumanizing” to Kamala Harris who called called his behavior sexual harassment and said it couldn’t be tolerated. In all, 35 Democratic senators called for Franken’s ouster. And nobody, not even The Atlantic, disputes that the mob that came for Frankenstein was led by Kirsten Gilibrand. Dem. / NY.
The Democrats have hung their hats on identity politics.
Time will tell is this wise. In the meantime, at the very least, I say acknowledge the facts. The Dems torpedoed one of their own in service to The Me Too hysterics.

jae 10:59 AM  

Medium. I’m a BEQ fan and have been doing his twice weekly puzzles ever since he started his website as well as his alternate Sunday Boston Globes. So, while this was a tad tamer than his typical Mon. offering, it was still a solid Sat. with a soupçon of sparkle. Liked it. My solve was quite similar to @Rex’s including not wanting to put in QED and thinking Vespa was a motor bike.

JC66 11:05 AM  

@Andy S

FYI, Dena Dietrich. the actress who played MOTHER NATURE,just died recently.

Whatsername 11:08 AM  

Even with my usual shameless Saturday cheating, I still had a DNF with a RIP TIDE flowing where it should have been RED in 13D. But since I wasn’t familiar with EITHER of the two crosses, it made perfect sense to me.

QR CODE was new, had to look that one up, then realized it wasn’t really new, just forgotten. Loved the clues for DEG (Temple offering) and “one found in the reeds” for OBOIST which sent me off looking for egrets, herons and ibises after yesterday’s. Nancy is my least favorite comic strip of all time. Even as a child I disliked her and her smarmy little friend SLUGGO. Bleh!

@Frantic (8:59) You asked if there two words better than MURDER HORNET which illustrate the rearview mirror apocalypse that 2020 has been. I can’t think of only two better words other than perhaps It Sucked. But your statement that “It felt like I kept going to pieces and then reassembled by elves at every turn” comes pretty close to what 2020 has been like for me.

Newboy 11:08 AM  

Love Rex’s reaction to 39A which was mine exactly. And I have yet to meet a BEQ grid I hated, so LINE EM UP Mr Qx- any day of the week! Now back to enjoy commentariat 😷

Westword 11:18 AM  

Always love (and often get creamed by) BEQ’s signature mix of current and classic. Loved murder hornets. Would happily never look at another golf clue again. Really liked this, even though it took google to avoid a dnf.

Hungry Mother 11:21 AM  

I tried to see GEORGEoMaLEY since we’re binge watching Grey’s Anatomy. The confluence of multiple proper names in that area proved too much for me. Too much trivia! SB looks better and better as an alternative.

Hobbyist 11:21 AM  

Very, very good and very hard. I wish all puzzles were of such good quality. BEQ is one of the best constructors known to me.

GHarris 11:22 AM  

From the clue I immediately wrote in mother. Wanted earth, then Teresa and only got nature far down the line. I, too, had jots for jets (and still believe it to be the better answer). Had hornet and, as many others, spent lots of time trying to come up with the name of a moped. Finally, I not sold on the clue for jewel. Never heard it used as an alternative for fine example.

Nancy 11:31 AM  

Like @GILL (9:22), I found myself riding on the back of a motorcycle once. Not in Rome, in NYC. My experience was very different from hers -- similar only in the fact that we both did it because of our attraction to a man. But how could our experiences not have been different? Skiing, horseback-riding GILL who obviously is blessed with superior balance and dare-DEVILISHness, and me who...isn't.

I was playing tennis up at the courts on West 119th Street, contemplating the usual long bus ride or rides, depending on whether I did the #4 (one bus) or the Broadway bus connecting to the Crosstown. A cute and charming guy I'd been talking to said: "I'm going to the East Side. Can I give you a ride?" A ride AND a cute guy!! Of course I said yes.

He walked me to a curb on Riverside Drive around 115th Street. We walked by the three cars parked there. He then stopped. Why was he stopping? What was that thing he was pointing at??? OMG, it was a motorcycle!!!! OMG, surely he didn't mean...

Yes, evidently he did.

Not wanting to do anything to spoil our budding romance and possibly magnificent future, I agreed to get on the damned thing. "Have you ever been on one before?" he asked, already knowing he answer. I allowed that I hadn't. "It's easy," he said. "Just put your arms around my waist, hold on firmly, and lean into the turns. That's the most important thing -- leaning into the turns."

I put my arms around his waist so tightly you wouldn't believe it, knotted my fingers together so that they could not be pried apart ever, and hung on for dear life. The trembling that I'm sure he felt up and down his back was not from any sexual tension. It was from all that other tension.

The worst part was going through the 96th Street Transverse, which is full of curves as any New Yorker can tell you. As the motorcycle kept dipping alarmingly towards the ground, I tried to correct it by leaning the other way. I kept thinking I was going down, with the motorcycle on top of me. "Into the turns!!! Lean into the turns", he kept yelling at me over the awful noise.

We finally pulled up -- with me miraculously still in one piece -- in front of my family's rather elegant doorman building. (I was in my early 20s and living at home at the time). The expression on the doorman's face was one of complete shock. Motorcycles were associated at the time with hooligans, and I had never before been spotted with a hooligan. Motorcycle riding was associated with risky behavior and I had never struck anyone as someone especially eager to take risks.

(Was it a Vesper I had been on? How the hell would I know?)

And, btw, after risking life and limb for him, I never heard from the cute guy again.

Masked and Anonymous 11:35 AM  

Got the NW BEQ corner PDQ, and thought this was gonna be an eazy-E solvequest (for a SatPuz). Wrong again, M&A breath. Soon, M&A had to deal with MURDERHORNETs QUARTERRESTS, LUNESTA, ERNESTO, TANTO, GEORGESMILEY, QRCODES, SOBE, etc. And started to get the usual SatPuz nanosecond JITTERS.
It was so nice and cozy-safe, in that there NW corner …

staff weeject pick: Definitely QED. Hard to beat a good BEQ QED, crossin BARBEQUE. Primo QED clue, too boot.

@RP: TONTO. har


Thanx for the challenge, BEQ dude. The only thing worse than a MURDERHORNET?: a UPSSTORENUT.

Masked & Anonym007Us


Frantic Sloth 11:44 AM  

@Andy S 1026am Not just you! 😆 (see my 8:59am "Naughty Chiffon")

@Nancy 1032am Can't unsee your "adoRed" as the favorite color of Annie Carnes.

@puzzlehoarder 1042am With you on DULLache, but alas, "headache" in the clue nixed that idea. 😕

@Anonymous 1059am "The Me Too hysterics" is exactly the long-standing attitude that created the need for "The Me Too hysterics".

@Whatsername 1108am As usual, our spirits are kindred! 👍

puzzlehoarder 11:52 AM  

@JC66, thanks for the Dena Dietrich link. My only memory of that commercial is her classic line with the arm gesture punctuated by thunder. The elephant was completely forgotten.

Master Melvin 11:54 AM  

BEQ set a great trap at 46 A & D. Just had to be NEHI/NEATO right?

egsforbreakfast 11:56 AM  

Turns out that QR stands for Quick Response, as announced by Denso Wave, the corporate inventor of the QR Code in 1994. Who knew?

I notice that the central column consists of PEEWEE RELAID. Hoping this is not a shout out to Paul Reubens.

My difficulties with this puzzle would echo many earlier comments, but I especially lost time trying to make some version of orange scooter work for MURDER HORNET. I suppose the Murder Hornet would be the Hog of the biking world, rather than the scooter.

@Z. We had a wonderful Wheaten Terrier named Lulu. What breed is yours?

Anonymous 12:15 PM  

Try to keep up. Now It’s Black Lives Matter. If the woman is white she’s part of white privilege and white supremacy. Me too is now as antiquated as whale bone corsets and saying only men have penises. Thanks to modern ideology, we now know better.

Anonymous 12:21 PM  

A Vespa is a scooter. You don’t have to know much to know the difference between a motorcycle and a scooter.
A vesper is an evening prayer (almost always seen as vespers).
For the birding inclined there’s also vesper sparrows. Getting rarer than sensible ideologies these days.

Anonymous 12:24 PM  

Vespa is Italian for wasp. The words are cognates: swap V for W

Frantic Sloth 12:26 PM  

@Nancy 1131am Haha! From your harrowing experience, it's understandable why you thought it might have been a "Vesper" you were riding. "Say your prayers!" indeed.

***Pity Party Whine Alert***

I know it shouldn't, but nothing chaps my goat quite like going through the trouble of posting a link, only to have it ignored and then someone posting one (or a similar reference) later in the day, and then having theirs being recognized/thanked by others.
Just so's ya know, the "subtle" dis doesn't escape me, people. 😉
On the bright side, my skin is toughening up and I'm getting used to it. 😁 (Plus, I do know there could be all kinds of other reasons for this semi-rankling phenomenon.)

sixtyni yogini 12:28 PM  

What Rex said
from difficulties to likes and usual dislikes.🤗

Crimson Devil 12:28 PM  

Re Clems, Kadidillhopper and Labine, whose baseball card I still have, somewhere, renews my faith in this crowd. I, too, drove Vespa around Rome; thought I’d never escape traffic circling Coliseum.
Liked Temple DEGree and MOTHERNATURE. Had JoTS and SWOOn.
Nice Sat.

What? 12:32 PM  

VESPA Brought up unpleasant memories. In my first year of graduate school at UC Berkeley the campus is so large I discovered I couldn’t get from one class to another in time for my next class. Instead of buying a bicycle (I hadn’t realized I was in a snow free zone)I bought a Vespa motor scooter. If this was the example of Italian manufacturing at the time I don’t know how they got through the postwar period. The damn thing wouldn’t start after about a week. I had to walk it up a hill, put it in gear and pop the clutch as I rolled down. Usually it started just before hitting the street and I had to make a hard right turn just avoid the median. How I got through without ever hitting a car is beyond me. Oh well memories, not great memories but not bad because I was young then.

TTrimble 12:36 PM  

Much like yesterday's, it looked a little scary at first, but it made me feel smart at the end. Well under average Saturday time.

I find it hard to recreate the path I took; I just remember it was a little here, a little there (SOBE, withheld on entering DEPTHS, RRS, withheld on entering DANCER, QED) with an encroaching edge of despair coming on that I wouldn't finish this, but then I gained purchase in the NE. I was feeling confident about QUARTER RESTS, and 3/4 confident about R(obert)L(ouis)S(tevenson), but then what in the heck is that QR business?

Obviously the Vespa Orangina no Mandarinia was going to be some wasp-like critter, but I was not expecting MURDER as the first half. I think I needed purchase in the NW (where SLUGGO was critical) before I could even think of getting that.

By the way, @Frantic Sloth, I'm on Team Deliverance. Nancy the comic strip bores me to tears. Or, it's an enigma. I have this unrelieved paranoia that it must be super meta and high-flown and that I'm just too stupid or unsubtle to get it. Or maybe it's a case where all the strips end on a NO SOAP note and it's really a cruel and DEVILISH test? Does anyone laugh at Nancy without knowing why? Fess up!

Some tricky cluing and quite a trivia fest, but I enjoyed the challenge.

TTrimble 12:39 PM  

@Frantic Sloth 12:26 PM
I feel your pain. Happens to me frequently here. But now I'm gonna have to go back and see what you're talking about.

Anonymous 12:40 PM  

@mathgent. What's a mystery clue?

Z 12:41 PM  

@Greater Falls - So what does QR stand for? Quahog Risotto? Quality resistance? Quivering Raptors? - My vote is for Quahog Risotto but I can't help but think Quivering Raptors should have been part of the clue for RELAID.

@Unknown 9:38 - Would you complain about the Charleston or the Lindy Hop being dated? Are you new around here? Yes, I would complain about both the datedness and the Pop Culturiness of both and would likely do it quite vociferously. They are no better than the Arkansas Traveller or the Buck and Wing (yes - I found a history of DANCE timeline on the interwebs).

@anon10:25 - 😂😂😂 - Now that you mention it, no, I'm not surprised at the way BEQ spells BARBEQUE.

@egsforbreakfast - Lulu is some sort of chihuahua "designer dog." She is a bit of a rescue. Her original owner was an elderly patient of a fellow ultimate player. When her owner died the family was going to just take her to the animal shelter, but my friend (a visiting P.A.) said she would take Lulu and find a home. She brought her to a game, right before she and her boyfriend were going on a vacation, so I offered to watch Lulu for a week. The week has lasted over 175 weeks so far.

Anonymous 12:43 PM  

Hmm.I think you made a little bit of extra work for yourself. I very much doubt your Vespa had enough displacement or compression to necessitate walking it up a hill. Part of the vespas ease of operation was its light weight and small engine which made it pretty dined easy to pop the clutch on dead level ground.
I am in fact looking at 1950 Vespa as I write this.

Whatsername 12:43 PM  

@GILL and @Nancy: Enjoyed your motorcycle stories and love that they both involved handsome men. I tried to think if I had anything similar in my past but sadly, no. The first time I ever rode one was with a boy in high school who wasn’t particularly good looking and (surprise!) was never heard from again. I ended up burning my leg on the exhaust pipe and getting in major trouble with my dad when he found out I’d been with some hooligan doing something so scandalous! Definitely not a happy ending to that story.

@Roo (9:20) Your mention of “motor scooter” being dubbed in for a PG version of M-Fer reminded me of an old friend whose little boy was fascinated with his daddy’s motor scooter, but to him it was a motor forker. All you had to do was mention it, and he would get very excited and start repeating it over and over again: “motor forker motor forker motor forker.” Naturally it cracked everyone up, and he’d start giggling and repeating it even faster because we were laughing at him. And the faster he said it the more it sounded like ... well you know. To this day, I still think of him whenever I see or hear the words “motor scooter.”

Joaquin 12:57 PM  

@Anonymous (10:59) - Guess I wasn't clear, but I agree with you that the Dems fired the bullet that struck Al Franken. A damn shame, IMO, as he was an excellent senator.

Z 12:59 PM  

Came back to catch up on the comments and post the PPP and forgot to post the PPP Analysis.

PPP Analysis
Pop Culture, Product Names, and other Proper Nouns as a percentage of the puzzle. 33% is the excessive line.

19 of 68 for 28%. As I noted earlier, several of the PPP take up a sizable amount of grid space. However, there are also a couple of PPP answers that aren't prototypical PPP. The fill-in-the-quote answers are inferable without knowing the quotes. So I think this puzzle approaches the "excessive" line without crossing it.

The List

SLIM JIM (Anyone remember the cubano like Big Boy sandwich?)
DEG (Temple University Clue)
QED (I waffle on this one)
GOD (Gandhi quote)
TAI Babilonia

MESAS (Hopi clue)
MURDER HORNET (ripped from the headlines clue)
ETAILERS (Amazon clue)
RRS (Monopoly clue)
I'VE (Langston Hughes quote)

Richard 1:03 PM  

I do the NYTXW on paper and three others (Washington Post, New York, and New Yorker) on-line. To me, the computer versions are a form of cheating (only minor offense intended) because I can't fail: I don't get a "Congratulations!" if I've got anything wrong, so I can keep going over the grid -- even trying out different letters -- until I get it right. On paper, I'm entirely on my own -- on one to tell me that I've got to keep trying.

That's what happened this morning. I fell into the barbecue/BARBEQUE trap, and neglected to check the cross; I didn't even notice the (dumb) cED error at the crossing. If I'd been solving on a computer, I'd have been prompted to work a little harder until I got it. So, a DNF for me today -- but an honest DNF.

Don't get me wrong. I, too, enjoy the on-line versions. It's just that, for me, paper (and even better, with pen) is the purist's puzzle. (Hope I don't stir up a MURDERHORNET's nest with these observations).

This, IMO (see 6D) -- aside from the DNF -- was just about perfect for a Saturday. Scratching and clawing for traction; finding little on first go-through; thinking about giving up (or at least putting aside until this afternoon); making a couple of semi-educated guesses here and there; until it all slowly comes into focus and all the squares have letters. Time to put it down and take my lumps. Thanks BEQ!

egsforbreakfast 1:06 PM  

@Z. Thanks for the Lulu backstory. May you and she have many times 175 weeks together to come.

KnittyContessa 1:10 PM  

Am I the only one who thought Vespa mandarinia was a James Bond reference? I know it's a lower case m but I just couldn't get it out of my head.

I flew through this one. I'm not sure how because there was a ton I didn't know. I have never heard of GEORGE SMILEY but it was easy to guess from the crosses as was TANTO, QUARTER RESTS, LUNESTA.

Hope tomorrow's is a good one.

jberg 1:15 PM  

This has been a good week. An easy but snappy ACME puzzle yesterday on the Inkubator, and now this BEQ. It was an epic struggle for me, but I loved every moment of it. The hardest part was ambiguous and/or deceptive cluing, appropriate for a Saturday. Working my way down the Acrosses, I got all the way to 19A, GOYAS, before I felt sure enough of anything to write it in. Then clever choices which turned out to be wrong: "eruption" (as in volcanic) before BARBEQUE, confirmed by "paper" before DEBIT, so it was really hard to fix. I figured out what he was up to at 35A and boldly wrote in "djinns," further confirming "eruption." I thought of SLIM JIM but resisted it because the term is so much more common in the plural. Oh, and then PEtitE before PEEWEE, confirmed by three crosses! It's amazing I ever solved this one.

Crucial point about the Donizetti clue. I've seen a lot of operas, but not "Don Pasquale," but from the clue the name was very likely to end in O, which helped me correct djinns and figure out TANTO. I was torn between Edwardo and Edgardo, so I fortunately left the middle letters blank (I had the E).

@anonymoose -- "Different words, different meanings, different spellings." Yes, but that's also true of "liable" (in the clue in quotation marks" and libel. That's supposed to be a tipoff to the solver.

Heavy rain right now, but should change to snow in an hour or two -- we're hunkering down and getting ready to build a fire in the fireplace.

GILL I. 1:18 PM  

Oh good gravy, @Nancy.....We should go on a double date sometime. We should bring @Frantic into the fray... just so that we can continue laughing.
I did hold on tight, like you, and whatever I held on to was firm....not sure that's what kept me from falling off.
You need to supplement "The Green Paint Mystery." Shall it be called "Was It a Vespers I had Been On?"

Daniel Jalkut 1:21 PM  

I also had BARBECUE at first, but Black Ink never labeled the Q as red for me. Is that what you were suggesting happened?

JC66 1:22 PM  


Sorry. My link was intended to show that the MOTHER NATURE actress had just passed away (and it had a different commercial).

Pete 1:34 PM  

@Franken pittiers - Sure, pretending to molest an unconscious woman is less reprehensible than actually molesting an unconscious woman. However, it differs in degree, not in type. It's still a man saying to a woman "you are merely meat, and I can do anything I want to you. It's only by my generosity that you weren't molested. You thought you were safe, traveling with friends? Think again."

Frantic Sloth 1:45 PM  

@Anon 1215pm LOL! Whale bone corsets are out? I stand corrected! 😉

@What? 1232pm 🤣🤣 For cryin' out loud - just walk to school already!

@TTrimble 1236pm @ 1239pm Thanks for the vote of solidarity. I'm sure I've been guilty of my own complaint, which goes to why I realize it's pointless.
And I could not agree more about Nancy! I remember reading it as a kid and thinking "this is stupid" and yet I read it every damn Sunday for reasons passing understanding. Unless I identified? Yep. That's probably it.

@Z 1241pm You know, there's makeup to hide that giant "S" on your forehead. 😘 Our former neighbors in Brooklyn were the worst foster parents for cats. Hardly ever gave one up - much to my delight. 😁

@GILL, @Nancy, @Whatsername You could all star in a women's prison movie for all the wayward behavior you engaged in. There's a term for girls like you: Hooligan Hoppers.

@Richard 103pm I don't necessarily agree with the "cheating" element of online solving, but I get your point. Of course you're entitled to your opinion, but you'd be righter with mine. 😉

@JC66 122pm Oh, my - no apology necessary! I get that's what you were doing and I almost didn't say anything because I feared (being the consummate gentleman that you are) you'd feel the need to apologize.

Frantic Sloth 1:50 PM  

Oh! I forgot to mention @Whatsername 1243pm The "motor forker" story! That one's gonna last me a while! 🤣🤣🤣

jberg 1:55 PM  

Oh yeah, the Vespa thing. I should have noticed that mandarinia was not capitalized, but I ignored that and since I could see that the answer would start with MURDER, I figured it was a model of scooter popular with gangsters. Fortunately, MURDER scooter didn't fit.

My wife and I have been dining at restaurants with outdoor patios. As a way of reducing contact, many of these places have a placard on the table with a QR CODE--when you take a picture of it with your phone, the menu will popup on your screen.

CDilly52 2:01 PM  

Could have been much, much worse. Whenever I see BEQ’s byline, I automatically implore the Crossword Muses to energize my creative juices (such as they are) and out on another pot of coffee.

As it happens today, luck was with me today. As a big fan of LeCarre’, GEORGE SMILEY was a gimme. Next, I had the HORNET part but know that insect as an Asian rather than MURDER HORNET. Accordingly it took me a bit for the fog to clear on that middle strip. Once I cleaned that up, the remainder of the puzzle went fairly quickly.

Lots to like here today. Homage to the iconic junk food, the SLIM JIM, alone deserves mention. I cannot remember a time when one didn’t see those spicy little gems at every cash stand in every C-store and grocery in America. And I have never eaten one but bajillions of folks swear by them as their snack of choice.

I have read every LE Carew’ and many, many other famous mystery writers but George Smiley has remained one of my favorites along with James Patterson’s Alex Cross and his entire family - especially Nana Mama. So now you all know that like many lawyers (especially career prosecutors-even those of us who work on the civil rather than criminal side), I am a mystery reader.

BEQ is usually more devious than he was today (or I was especially tuned in), and except got that one little area, I found this an enjoyable but easy Saturday. No junk, lots to like and those adorable little squiggles QUARTER RESTS. All I have to say is I LIKED IT! Thanks BEQ.

Z 2:03 PM  

@Frantic Sloth - Thanks. S for “Superman,” right? Actually we are big believers in dogs being happier with another dog around so we were already thinking of getting Zeke a sibling. An 11 lb already house trained chihuahua was pretty much perfect.

@Pete - Sure, but we usually take differences in degree into consideration. So a guy who has publicly admitted to much worse is president with the full support of his party while Franken is out of office. If Franken should have resigned than it is fair to say that Trump belongs in jail for his confessed sex crimes. Franken showed some honor. If only the other party had any sense of shame.

What? 2:07 PM  

@Anonymous 12:43
My Vespa was a 1957.
I suspected the problem was the spark plug which can get pretty slimed in a two stroke engine. However, since I was brought up in NYC, I knew less than nothing about engines. My starting technique was taught to me by a fellow Vesparite, otherwise it would’ve still been there, waiting by the curb.

chefwen 2:19 PM  

@whatsername 12:43 - Similar story with the tail pipe, burned the crap out of my calf. My guy was extremely handsome and I was smitten, my mother was too cuz he was very polite. Went out with him for about six months and thought we might have a good thing going. One little problem arose when he told me was gay. Oh well, so much for that romance. Was a great friend though.

Like many of BEQ’s puzzle, almost did me in. Yes, there was cheating involved.

bocamp 2:23 PM  

Twigged on "Temple" University at 20A, but couldn't come up with "deg" off hand.

@RooMonster 10:22 AM 👍

@Nancy 11:31 AM - Cute anecdote!

Jeff comments at "XWord Info": here.

Amy Reynaldo comments at "Diary of a Crossword Fiend": here.


Peace Pace Pax Paz 🕊

Frantic Sloth 2:32 PM  

@Z 203pm Superman? Yeah. Okay. Sure. 🤣

@chefwen 219pm They're still casting that women's prison movie if you're interested. 😉

pabloinnh 3:29 PM  

@Joaquin-I absolutely believe your Al Franken story about the jitters/willies/heebie jeebies because you've never lied to me, not even once, but doesn't that sound like a George Carlin observation? Emphasis on "sounds like", I wouldn't say "is", because I don't know, and also because that would be insulting.

Thanks for being the blog's version of a laugh-a-day calendar. So shines a good deed in a naughty world.

Diane Joan 3:50 PM  

Did anyone else have "Crotch Rocket" in place of Murder Hornet"? That's how my niece and nephew refer to scooters so that messed me up for a bit. One of our tour guides in Italy was a very handsome man who took a liking to my niece, already an adult at the time. Later he wanted to take her out that night and she asked us if we thought it was safe to go out with him. After seeing the crazy way he rode his Vespa we advised against it. It turns out we saw a flash of a wedding ring on his finger also as he sped by. I'm sure she missed out on some fun but we were glad she took our advice!

Dave S 4:05 PM  

I liked it too. Surprised Rex wasn't annoyed by the "Sluggo" reference, which even to oldish me sounds old. But I guess Goya, Guns and Money.. er, I man UPS Store,were enough infer it, even if you didn't while away our mornings in the 60s-70s reading Nancy. Shows what I know, though-Nancy is still current and drawn by Olivia Jaimes these days. Uses cellphones and everything, and still hangs out with Sluggo.

Cankee Yanuck 4:34 PM  

Hi everyone.

I'm new to crossword solving. I started with the NYTXW at the end of September and am now hooked. This is my first comment on the blog, which I'm so glad I found as it's been very helpful and fun to read.

Today's puzzle was one of my most difficult yet. My initial process is to go through all the Acrosses and then the Downs. After doing that *twice* this morning, I had about six or seven entries total, only a couple of which I felt confident about. I made a lot of the same errors early on that others have mentioned: RIPTIDE/REDTIDE, WILLIES/JITTERS, etc. I thought for sure I was going to break my streak but I kept plugging away and eventually got the Congratulations message. Such a great feeling!

As a Canadian-American, I almost posted here on Monday about the MAPLE SYRUP controversy (I'm not SAYING SORRY for thinking Canada's is the best!) but didn't get a chance. I did see a couple of commenters mentioned the Great Canadian Maple Syrup Heist. Here's a link to the Wikipedia entry in case anyone wants to learn more about it.


Thanks to all of you for creating this great community for sharing info, frustrations, and successes!

Joaquin 4:40 PM  

@pabloinnh (3:29 pm) - Many thanks for the props. At my age I try to find the humor in everything. Sometimes it ain't easy!

I'm 99% sure it was Al Franken. I remember reading it in one of his books years ago (probably "Rush Limbaugh Is A Big Fat Idiot"); Google provided me no help at all in verifying this.

TTrimble 4:55 PM  

@Joaquin @pabloinnh
For what interest it may have, the Franken quip is from Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot (p. 66 here), where Franken is "sharing secrets" from a Renaissance Weekend he attended: "At a panel on health care reform Ira Magaziner announced that the comprehensive package would cover people with the willies but not those suffering from the heebie-jeebies."

(It does sort of sound like Carlin.)

Nancy 5:00 PM  

Welcome, @Cankee Yanuck. Nice first post here! And I love your nom de blog.

If you finished a Saturday -- especially this Saturday -- after having only started solving in September, Wow!!! Just Wow!!! I'm sure you're destined for true Puzzle Solving Greatness!

bocamp 5:11 PM  

@Cankee Yanuck 4:34 PM - Welcome to the blog from another Canadian-American. Enjoyed the description of your solve and admire your persistence in successfully reaching the finish line. Happy puzzling and blogging. 😊

Peace Pace Pax Paz 🕊

Joaquin 5:25 PM  

@TTrimble (4:55) - Thanks! That's exactly the quote I was referencing and looking for (and my guess for the source was right).

Whatsername 5:26 PM  

@chefwen (2:19) I’d say you win the prize for motorcycle men horror stories from the past. Yikes! Good to know you remained friends though.

@Cankee Yanuck (4:34) Welcome aboard! Hope you’ll be back often.

JC66 5:31 PM  

@Cankee Yanuck

Like @Nancy said, great handle.

Welcome and keep the posts coming.

pabloinnh 5:36 PM  

@TTrimble-Nice job on the research. Nice to see facts, even nicer to see a respect for them.

@Joaquin-I'd join you in your "at my age" observation, but it's pretty much been my modus operandi forever.

@Cankee Yanuck--Welcome and bienvenue. Hope you're not a Fankee Yan, and you're forgetting the superiority of NH maple syrup.

Unknown 5:41 PM  

@ Z 12:59 How are MESAS part of the PPP world?
Mesas are a geologic formation, found throughout the American Southwest.

As far as you complaining about the Lindy Hop & the Charleston, well, some folks just like to complain I guess! :) For me they are absolutely fine as answers, and for a puzzle that tends to skew a little older, they seem perfectly appropriate for the NYT.
Frankly, I'd prefer them to some of the more esoteric rap artists we see, but I know that rex loves him some rap music, so there's little on-line complaint about that from his acolytes. (I actually have no issue with regulars like Dr. Dre or Lil Kim, but there's some D-listers out there . . .)

kitshef 6:00 PM  

Continuing to work through the "tough puzzle" suggestions from Thursday. @sanfranman suggested Robert Wolfe's 9/2/1999 puzzle. That appears to be a typo - the puzzle is from 8/2/1999, and yes it is another toughie.

He also suggested Peter Gordon's 5/31/2002, which also appears to be a typo - should be 5/30/2002, and was (I thought) quite easy for a Thursday.

Maybe he did that Peter Gordon puzzle very early in his solving days? Or maybe it's wheelhouse/outhouse.

Z 6:23 PM  

@Unknown 5:41 - MESAS are not PPP but making the solver know the Hopi is. When I list the unnecessary PPP I usually include a little note for how the puzzle turned a perfectly good word like MESAS or GOD into PPP. And the Lindy Hop and Charleston are problematic for exactly the same reason esoteric rap artists are problematic.

Regarding Nancy - Nancy is still being published, has a new artist/writer, and is one of Rex’s favorite strips (well, neo-Nancy and classic Peanuts are the two strips most likely to be Tweeted by Rex). Mark Trail also just got a new artist/writer.

bocamp 7:19 PM  

@Anonymous 1:19 AM (late yesterday) wrote: "Regarding tough Thursday puzzles, September 15, 2016 by Ian Livengood, please, hands down the toughest, over 200 comments on this site."

I agree, and even tho I had done this puzzle in '16, I had no recollection of it and spent the better part of two hrs on it this time around. Finished successfully after a hard fought battle. :)

Peace Pace Pax Paz 🕊

Anonymous 7:21 PM  

Pete and Z,
Nonsense. The Franken fiasco is not a tart of free but difference.
That’s why Al Pacino isn’t in jail for murdeing a New York City police captain. That occurred in a picture. Not real life.
Just so wit that goofball Franken.He didn’t grab that woman’s breast, he pretended to. That’s idiotic, sophomoric, absurd. It is not sexual assault. It is not dehumanizing. And, Pete, it’s not saying anything to the woman. She’s asleep. She’s not the audience. The conscious passengers in the plane are the audience, the people who’ll see the picture are the audience.
The joke he’s telling is on himself. He covets the woman but has no chance with her except by stealing her favors when she sleeps. He’s the punchline.
Yeah, I agree it’s not funny. But it’s not criminal. But I’ve read your posts before and not only are you not an attorney, you don’t seem to have much respect for law or due process. O

Unknown 7:35 PM  

That whole incident was a puerile photo joke that the babe was in on, and then she threw Al under the bus at the behest of her Republican friends. He - and we - were robbed, and it’s a damned shame.

Anonymous 8:46 PM  

a crotch rocket was, they aren't made any more, a Japanese 2 or 3 cylinder 2-cycle street racer. went from docile speedster to killer bike when it came on the pipe, which it did all at once.

kitshef 9:09 PM  

@bocamp - I'm not certain, but I believe that the September 15, 2016 puzzle holds the record for most comments. A close second is 9/11/2014. I do not recommend either one of them.

Also while doing @sanfranman's suggestions, I noticed that Rex suggested November 1 2008 as a particularly difficult one. Tomorrow, I hope to get to your 12/3/1995 suggestion.

Z 9:29 PM  

Saturday Stumper 12 D!!!
How’s that for serendipity?

bocamp 10:06 PM  

@kitshef 9:09 PM

I'm a glutton for punishment, so I'll have a go at 9/11/2014 tomorrow. LOL

I'd recommend the September 15, 2016 one for those who have the time and are patient, persevering, adventurous and … 😂

I apologize for the 12/3/1995 one, as it's not a Thurs. It just happened to be where I am on the way from '93 to '12. Once I've closed that gap, I'll go back and start over. I doubt others would have the problems I had with that one. All but one of my errors were just plain silly (easy to say when it's all said and done). Anyway, I'll be interested to know how it goes for you.

Peace 🕊

August West 10:39 PM  

No Torah-length screed about the “inelegance,” and slipshod editing, of permitting LIP OUT and TIRE OUT to survive the final draft, and geographically separated by only two squares, at that?

Well, Jeff didn’t construct this one.

albatross shell 11:01 PM  

French countryside side summer of 1965 drove a two-wheeled motor vehicle for the first time. A Vespa. What an adventure. Just outta high school. People there still loved Americans. WWII effect. Paris not quite as enthusiastic about Americans. Tourist effect? Maybe politics? Later that day saw an ancient French woman pushing a buggy giving what I assumed was a thalidomide child up a hill. Emotional balance.

I managed the NE honestly. Also good progress in the SE and some in the NW. My first cheat was Call of the Dead. It failed, getting the GEORGE Romero video game that did not fit the clue. Managed the right answer later on. Cheated to get QUARTERREST after going through endless nanoseconds of music symbol symbols. And some people think computers and math are complicated. And so it went.

But a wonderful puzzle. Not flashy but somehow dazzling anyway. I never noticed constructors before reading this blog. BEQ has a style all his own. And usually in my outhouse. But still love EM.

But did I mention...

Nate 12:03 AM  

The Scooter was was wasp-ish for the bulbous shape of the rear section as well.

Mark 2:48 AM  

"Mother Nature's Son" is a Paul McCartney song, and his version is one million times better than John Denver's version.

Anonymous 1:57 PM  

Quigley is the best!

Cankee Yanuck 2:49 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Roy Dimaggio 9:35 PM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
spacecraft 11:13 AM  

Off knowing that "vespa" means wasp, I thought of common names for them and guess what? yellow jackET fits perfectly! Boy did that one mess me up! So did nIMBle instead of LIMBER. But it all got straightened out in the end, thanks in part to plunking down LIPOUT right away.

A couple awkward partials here, and a relatively obscure TAI Babilonia (DOD), who I recall was heartbroken when her pairs partner Randy Gardner suffered an injury during warmups in Innsbruck and couldn't go on.

Still a fine Saturday by one of the masters. Birdie.

Anonymous 1:48 PM  

"PPP Analysis approaching excessive" means this was a pisser infestation.

Waxy in Montreal 1:52 PM  

Actually found this an easier than usual Saturday - having reread most of the John Le Carré novels during 2020 helped making 21D a gimme. Had the same problem as many with the Vespa clue focusing in on the scooter even after MURDER appeared. Hanging onto SELECT for the choice word for far too long didn't help EITHER. Not sure what SOBE is but SO BE it.

Overall, certainly ILIKEDIT.

Burma Shave 2:04 PM  


That DANCER was LIMBER as hell,
so DEVILISH I'd TIREOUT and fade,
GOODIE for me, I'VE just been RELAID.


Unknown 2:09 PM  

Living in the Northwest, murder hornets are a serious problem—and the country hasn't heard the last of them. It's not an ephemeral 2020 challenge.

thefogman 3:56 PM  

ILIKEDIT even though it was DEVELISHly hard. Perfect Saturday puzz. Bravo Brendan Emmet Quigley!

leftcoaster 5:37 PM  

Got most of it, but that doesn’t cut or slice it. Some clues and answers just weren’t sufficiently INSYNC for me.

Best and worst long downs, in order: GEORGESMILEY and MURDERHORNET.

Best and worst long acrosses, in order: MOTHERNATURE and QUARTERRESTS (aided and abetted by QRCODES).

SOBE it.

rondo 5:38 PM  

My checkout option 'paper' slowed thigs before I carded DEBIT, and the DULLache became a PAIN. But a nice 25 minute struggle from BEQ. I met him a couple years ago and I like the guy.

leftcoaster 6:05 PM  

Over on Jeff Chen’s Xwordinfo, I see that BEQ has posted 187 NYTXwords over 24 years, an average of about 8 per year -- 40% of them on Fridays and Saturdays, and 70% on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Those look like record numbers to me.

leftcoaster 6:25 PM  

Oops! Included 15 of BEQ’s puzzles in “Variety”, but still end up with exceptional numbers.

Diana, LIW 7:06 PM  

Took me a while - typical for a BEQ puzzle.

BUT - I need to tell the SyndieCats - it's time to donate to @Rex if you choose to do so. EXTREMELY cute Kitty Cards will be your reward in the mail. Take your deLorean out and fly off to FutureLand and see what @Rex has to say.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting, and Time Traveler

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