Danny ventriloquist dummy for Jimmy Nelson / SAT 1-23-21 / Snow-capped peak of song / Pirates of Penzance ingenue / Nut chewed as stimulant / Classic film that gave us term paparazzi / Museo contents / Gene who's considered the founding father of the modern drum set

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Constructor: Doug Peterson and Brad Wilber

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: Jimmy Nelson (3D: Danny ___, ventriloquist dummy for Jimmy Nelson => O'DAY)
James Edward Nelson (December 15, 1928 – September 24, 2019) was an American ventriloquist who appeared on television in the 1950s and 1960s. He is most famous for commercials for Nestlé chocolate featuring Farfel the Dog. He also hosted a children's show sponsored by Nestlé. [what the actual *&!$?] (wikipedia)
• • •

Hello! It's the 23rd of the month once again, so I hopped on the old Zoom machine and taped myself solving the puzzle with my good friend Rachel Fabi. I'll post that at the end of the write-up. What did we encounter? Well, it was quite a ride—mostly a pleasant one. I did spend a good amount of time just starting, baffled, at 3D: Danny ___, Ventriloquist dummy for Jimmy Nelson, and then, when I filled in the answer (entirely from crosses), spent some more time just staring at that answer (O'DAY). I've never had a clue mean less to me in my life. Never ever Ever heard of Jimmy Nelson, and then just add some "ever"s to the amount I've never heard of Danny O'DAY. Three decades of solving puzzles, never once seen Jimmy Nelson, never once seen this O'DAY clue. Anita O'DAY is the O'DAY I know. Possibly the only O'DAY I know. If you're gonna give me a new O'DAY, at least ... I don't know, make sure that person exists in the realm of current human knowledge. As you can see from the "Word of the Day" entry above, Danny O'DAY isn't even Jimmy Nelson's primary dummy!!!! Danny doesn't even get mentioned in the opening paragraph. No, instead it's Farfel the Dog (!?!?!?!) who was apparently the A-list dummy. If you put FARFEL in your grid (please don't), then sure, you sorta have to go to Jimmy Nelson for your clue, but O'DAY, as I say, Has A Perfectly Good Clue. I am really hung up on this. Danny O'DAY? I almost don't want to look him up. I feel like the reality will only be disappointing. Oh well, let's go ahead and look ... oh ... my ... I ... wow

The dummy clue was the only real baffler. Didn't know MABEL, either, but at least I've heard of "The Pirates of Penzance," so that didn't bother me nearly so much (16A: "The Pirates of Penzance" ingénue). Rachel hadn't heard of Esther ROLLE, who was a lot more common in crosswords of yore, i.e. crosswords that came out closer to when "Good Times" was on the air (i.e. the '70s) (21A: Esther of TV's "Good Times"). ROLLE was a gimme for me, but I'm 20 years older than Rachel, so no big surprise there. She also didn't know LAURA NYRO, who's before my time, even, but she's a pretty famous songwriter, so I know her name well (51A: "Stoned Soul Picnic" songwriter). Rachel did make a decent point, though, about the NYRO / DYNE crossing, which is that people might try an "I" there ... Seems possible, but I'd say it's even more likely that solvers will screw up a different crossing, which Rachel also noticed—the KRUPA / KOLA cross. If you don't know Gene KRUPA, then it seems very possible that you will imagine that the nut in question is a COLA. Someone somewhere is making that mistake, for sure. Both NYRO and KRUPA are gonna be much better known to older solvers, and since their names aren't exactly inferrable, there's plenty of opportunity for younger solvers to screw them up. Proper nouns, man. You have got to watch out. See, with MABEL and O'DAY, those are proper nouns, and I didn't know either of them, but they are both recognizable, familiar names, and the crosses were in no way confusing, so I could get at them. KRUPA and NYRO I knew ... but if I hadn't, yikes. 

Other things we reacted to:
  • 29A: Left on deck (APORT)
    — boy, did we REACT to that one. If I could wish one answer in this puzzle away (aweigh?) it would be that one. I guess it means in the direction of ... port (which is what "left on deck" means in most cases). I jokingly asked if there's such a word as "astarboard" ... but, in fact, there is.
  • 14D: Unwelcome forecast (SLEET) — I got mad at the puzzle for calling hail "bad" yesterday, but I'm not as mad at this SLEET clue, because "unwelcome" isn't a moral absolute; it's a human judgment.
  • 53A: Counterpart of butch (FEMME) — Rachel took particular exception to this, as it reinforces a limited, binary way of thinking (about lesbians in particular). That binary does have a meaningful history, and I thought that "counterpart" was better than, say, "opposite." Rachel is right, though, that you can get to FEMME without "butch." We also discussed the fact that the answer to 7D contains a word that can be a racial slur, and some constructors (including Rachel) have deleted it from their wordlists entirely. Oh, and HIT LIST—I thought it was a little too grim (23A: Offer sheet?). Rachel, who grew up like many in her generation, doing active shooter drills in school, associating the term HIT LIST with the targets of would-be school shooters—she had an even stronger negative reaction than I did.
  • 11D: Classic film that gave us the term "paparazzi" ("LA DOLCE VITA") — I loved this one, and we both generally liked all the long answers. SHARK WEEK, "WORDS FAIL ME," POT DE CRÈME ... all nice. 
Here's the video of us solving in real-time. 

Two corrections re: this video. I talk about "TREES" poet Joyce Kilmer as if Joyce were a woman. Joyce Kilmer was a man. Alfred Joyce Kilmer. My fellow former UM English grad student friend Michele pointed this out to me just now, and so I'm properly humiliated. Also, I think somewhere in this video, I reimagine the phrase "any port in a storm" as "any storm in APORT," so you can ignore that as well.

Hope you liked the puzzle at least as well as we did (despite the issues detailed above, I did think it was an enjoyably solid effort).

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 1:16 AM  

Mostly easy. POT DE CREME had me pausing for several nanoseconds but when I finally went with the T I got the metaphorical happy music (my app just says congratulations).

Same takes on ODAY, MABEL, and the KOLA/KRUPA cross as @Rex.

Fun long downs, fun puzzle, liked it a bunch.

Rique Beleza 2:00 AM  

My puppy can’t NIP at my heels anymore? Are you kidding me?

Unknown 2:07 AM  

I wasn't a big fan of this one. All kinds of issues. In the NW, I think STANDS FIRM means resolute - STANDS PAT feels wrong. Same with IN DUE TIME - I want either IN GOOD TIME or IN DUE COURSE instead.

Stack of 3 proper nouns in the NE was trouble. I didn't know any of them. Never heard of LAURA NYRO. Fell into the CRUPA/KRUPA trap. Had no clue about OPEL or TARO in the W.

First puzzle in a long time where I had to look up an answer. Maybe just bad luck, but it was a slog.

TTrimble 2:14 AM  

Listened to the blogcast with Rachel, and it weirds me out how the NW offered little to no resistance to them -- that was the section I struggled with most and finished at the end. For example, ONTO, where "with" seems just as plausible. Rex unerringly offers "STANDS PAT?" and Rachel chirps, "Sure!". And then NIP AT flows out effortlessly, as does GMAC, as if they mind-melded with the creator. Personally, I got hung up trying "opportune" instead of IN DUE TIME. And I found the TOY - O'DAY PPP cross somewhat unkind.

(SET THEORY, of course, was a gimme. Although a little simple in its cluing. I might have tried something like, "Branch of mathematics where cardinals loom large" -- that's off the top of my head.)

Hate to break it to you, Rex, but the "TREES lady", Joyce Kilmer, was actually a dude. Also fun to watch them suss out POT DE CREME, which came readily to me, as my mom used to make it now and then (could it have been a late 60's - early 70's culinary fad? I remember facetiously calling it "pudding cream" at the time).

I liked the SE corner -- it was yesterday or the day before I was checking out parts of the 1967 Monterey Pops Festival and spent a while listening to Laura Nyro, so happily that was fresh in my mind. ESPERANTO seemed like the only plausible thing for that weird snippet of language. Gene KRUPA, yup, good to see.

Rex brought up HAIL again and defended what he wrote yesterday, adding that he thinks SLEET is worse. Um, Rex, WORDS FAIL ME... except to observe that HAIL is much more likely than SLEET to cause property damage, and it hurts a lot more if you happen to be in the MIDDLE of it.

Anyway, it was a fun romp except for that NW corner, which left me feeling less than a SMARTIE.

okanaganer 2:51 AM  

Jeez "fortification" just had to be BASTION, but no. "Nut chewed as a stimulant" was obviously KAVA, but no. Therefore some resistance, but a pretty rewarding puzzle. Nice long answers.

Re FEMME == "counterpart of butch"? My niece's best friend is this insanely lovely young lady, half my age. Just so charismatic, if only I weren't so old... Anyway, she recently got married... to another insanely lovely young lady. Whenever I'm around them, I can't help thinking, in my old timey heterosexual way: "they're both the pretty one". No "butch", they are both FEMME... just delightfully beautiful. Anyway,...

(PS they just had a baby)

Charles Flaster 3:52 AM  

EZ because I knew all the proper names( most unusual).
Liked cluing for BROKE EVEN. Walked out of LA DOLCE VITA but have since come to totally enjoy it.
Thanks DP /BW.

Bageleater 4:19 AM  

Since I am of advanced age, I dimly recall those ancient Nestle commercials and was able to fill in “ODAY” very quickly. I find that crossword puzzles are one of the few things one actually gets better at with age. In time, Rex, you may stop railing about archaic clues and bask in your knowledge of history as you fill in words only you remember.

LenFuego 5:51 AM  

This was my hardest slog in quite a while ... just felt like I never got a toehold anywhere without working extremely hard at it.

Anonymous 6:56 AM  

Well I guess "The Christmas Song" is officially racist.

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire
Jack Frost NIPping at your nose

Conrad 6:57 AM  

@Rique Beleza: Apparently not. And I don't know if Jack Frost can nip at your nose.

@Okanaganer: If I'd thought of Bastion I would have DNF'd

I'm old enough to remember Gene KRUPA, but I wasn't into the 5th Dimension's music so I needed Sergey and Larry's help with LAURA NYRO as well as POT DE CREME, which I thought was the non-fitting POT a CREME. Medium to medium-challenging for me, but definitely approachable, so a pretty good Saturday.

Lewis 7:09 AM  

Ah, just what a Saturday should be. Misdirects, clues that beget multiple answers, wit, words I haven’t heard of, words I love, highbrow, lowbrow, lovely memory joggers, seemingly opaque areas that then yield slivers of light, answers drawn from many fields, struggles, and victories.

No walk in the park, yet always a ray of hope leading me on.

I almost broke down and looked something up, but the choir sang “Have faith!”, and I did, and I’m glad.

A beautiful battle, a labor that I loved. Thank you, you two!

Guilherme Gama 7:20 AM  

Being a Gilbert and Sullivan nerd and I actually opened with MABEL ("Yes, 'tis MABEL!").

That said, the rest was a disaster and I broke my streak. Hooray for Saturdays, k guess.

KnittyContessa 7:29 AM  

I struggled with this, especially in the NW and SE. My first thought for 1a was it's not going to be music related yet that didn't stop me from putting in bubblegum. Then there was ODAY and GMAC. I have no idea how I made it out of that corner.

The SE was brutal if you have never heard of LAURANYRO or DAB and forgot what a DYNE was. I finally googled LAURANYRO and remembered DYNE.

Lolcat Lisa 7:34 AM  

It's a new O'DAY in America! And don't be hating on Farfel.

RJ 7:35 AM  

There were so many answers in this one that I either didn't know, misspelled, or just got wrong on my first time through- like sharknado instead of shark week and rewrite instead of redraft - that it took me almost 40 minutes to finish. I can't say I enjoyed it - I had a lot more fun on Wednesday.

JOHN X 7:36 AM  

Boy I kind of owned this puzzle, as in none of the clues really fooled me. I knew it was MOODRINGS right away and SHARKWEEK as well and I know my Fellini . . . Anyhows all the long stuff seemed to drop easily and the rest was merely a mopping up operation.

I think it helped that my mind was sharply acute after a four day coke binge.

When I was finally arrested on the roof of Union Station the officer looked at my ID and informed me that it's my birthday. Right on! Please send bail money to D.C. Jail.

Flinque 7:57 AM  

HIT LIST ? still don’t get that one?

Anonymoose 8:04 AM  

Irony. THIS GUY has a racist name.

Hungry Mother 8:06 AM  

Not too bad today. MIST was my favorite answer. Fast enough not to be the usual slog I expect.

ChuckD 8:06 AM  

This one didn’t disappoint - but not the best we’ve seen from this tandem. I think too much trivia for a Saturday. The longs are exceptional - LA DOLCE VITA, OLD SMOKEY, BAKE SALES all top notch. MOOD RINGS is such a solid start - but I isn’t care for the rest of that corner. I may be one of the few who have never seen an episode of Breaking Bad.

POT DE CREME is a little old school but it went right in. My lesbian sister and her partner routinely use the terms Butch and FEMME. I’m assuming the use of the hetero pattern is the problem? I can’t keep up.

LAURA NYRO was up against it at Monterey. I never could warm up to her brand of pop - but always admired the fact that she did her which is more than I can say about those who idolize her and try to emulate.

Enjoyable solve for a bitter cold Saturday.

@#$&*()’l 8:24 AM  

Nice and clean, relatively easy Saturday. Only thing I didn’t know was POT DE CREME but that was easily inferable. Rachel needs to lighten up and realize that this is a crossword puzzle and not some millennial group hug.

amyyanni 8:27 AM  

Have to admit, old enough to know KRUPA, ROLLE,LAURA NYRO (she also sang, very talented-check out "Time & Love), and LA DOLCE VITA. So pretty breezy today, although APORT was a sticking point. For some reason, loved ventriloquists when I was a little kid. Remember Vonda Kay Van Dyke, anyone?

David Sinclair 8:29 AM  

I’m a gay man in my 50s. Femme, butch, fey, straight-acting...these are words that describe the world I live in. They are poles, not absolutes. They are binaries that organize and convey understanding. They are as much a part of me as boy and girl, straight and gay, cis and trans*. Binary is good. Binary is helpful. If you want to describe yourself as non-binary, knock yourself out. But can we please dispense with this notion that understanding the wold in binaries is somehow akin to transphobia, racism, or sexism?

GILL I. 8:35 AM  

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?????? This was the hardest, most frustrating puzzle I think I've ever done.
I had about three entries - the two French ones and the Spanish one. Oh...I also had BISON. Whooppeedoo.
How on this good earth is TELLS restless movements? Who died and made Ariz. residents RETD.? And, and....no one ever says MIDDLES for some airplane seats. "Excuse me Mr. flight attendant, can you show me where my MIDDLES are."
FEMME needs a fatale, when I'm fraught with risk, I'm not HAIRY. NO one use that POORER thing in wedding vows anymore unless you're
the Queen of England. Gadzooks, I gave Google a work-out and then called it quits. No fun at all for me.
On top of OLD SMOKEY all covered with cheese.

bocamp 8:43 AM  

Thank you, @Doug & @Brad, this was as good as it gets! :)

Medium solve; slightly under av. time.

Only a slight hitch in the SE. "Shark Week" and "Laura Nyro" were new to me, so took a couple of minutes to sort that section out.

Took an off-campus course in "Esperanto" at CC in Walla Walla.

On Top Of Old "Smokey" ~ Burl Ives

Early '70s in Walla Walla, was at a music store shopping for a guitar. Found one I liked and sang a few bars of "On Top of Old Smokey"; the owner said I sounded like Burl Ives, so that clinched the deal. Still play that guitar every day, trying my best to sound like Burl. LOL

yd npg -3

Peace Tolerance Kindness Togetherness 🕊

Kased 8:46 AM  

Merriam-Webster defines farfel as “noodles in the form of pellets or granules.” I know it as matzoh broken into small pieces. No Jimmy Nelson there.

Unknown 8:56 AM  

Gosh, I'm so glad I'm old. Getting weary of all the percieved micro-agressions and all the PC bs. Relax girlfriends. You're only offended if you choose to be and obviously you choose to be. Leave a decent puzzle alone. Let those of us who don't have self esteem issues to not nitpick every little thing apart. Grow up.

The Joker 8:57 AM  

On top of Old Smokey
All covered with grass
I tripped on my shoestring
And fell on my.........

JD 8:59 AM  

I'm with @Gill. I don't know how Reached The Point Of No Return? means Broke Even. The hell? If Adele wanted us to know her last name she'd use it. Have never seen Shark Week.

I vaguely remember that Nestle commercial but was young enough at the time to think the dog was real. I think Rex mentioned the ventriloquist in his commentary.

@John X, if we label the envelope with your alias will it find you?

Todd 9:01 AM  

I found this much harder than Rex. Mostly because I had no idea who Laura Nyro is. Though has no problen with Krupa/Kola cross. And I used to own an Opel GT. It had a very handsome gas cap with the lightning bolt on it. As to Nip, are we really going to try to cleanse the english language of any word which might have an offensive use totally unrelated to it's primary meaning or root origin? I hope sanity wins out on that one.

Nancy 9:04 AM  

Well, when it's SHARK what? to you...

And when it's LAURA who? to you...

And when you don't know the dance move or the enlarged micronewton or what it is that "pardners" say to each other...

And when you have SLOT instead of BOOK at 49D and you never question it for a microsecond...

You are not going to finish this puzzle. You just aren't. You will instead end up in the SE with five blank squares and three incorrect ones.

This is why I first started coming to Rex. It was on days that I could have stared at a puzzle until the cows came home and not have been able to finish it -- and when I felt I simply couldn't wait until my NYT arrived the following morning to find out what in heaven's name the right answers were.

For me this puzzle was impossible. Glad some of you found it easy.

Anonymous 9:05 AM  

Really ,nip at is racist ...???NYT is ridiculous

kitshef 9:09 AM  

What a bizarre clue for ARROW. Is there any difference between cluing it as “Certain computer key” and cluing it as “Computer key”?

This was very, very hard. Harder than 95% of Saturday puzzles. And that’s with KRUPA, DYNE and SET THEORY being absolute gimmes. For those younger or less STEM-y, I can’t imagine how you ever finished.

I really appreciated having to work so hard and getting there in the end.

What is remarkable is that I came around to enjoying the puzzle after hating it early on. No secret that I detest clues like “Quit your bickering”, “Pretty sure” and “I … I can’t even”, and it felt like every time I got even a little momentum, I’d hit a wall with one of those. But I was able to work around them, and the car clue, and whoever ODAY is. So ultimately the very fairness and challenge of the puzzle won me over.

Did not know LAURA NYRO, but feel like I should have.

Todd 9:18 AM  

JD, point of no return refers to zero return. No gain or loss. Hence break even.

Z 9:23 AM  

A classic Easy-Challenging Saturday. The NW had me thinking a PR was in the offing, but the other ¾ths of the puzzle was an adventure in finding toe-holds. I had tracE Adkins, which made the NE a battle in error-correction. I also had Bears stopping traffic in Yellowstone. And the cluing... it had me going left when I needed to go right and right when I needed to go left. Course? Offer? (@flinque An offer is one who offs, a hit man, who might need a list of who to off, a HIT LIST) Brain? Presses? All of these provided mini Aha moments when I finally figured out what the clue word actually was. And, of course, the WOE. LAURA NYRO? Name spellings can be random and here’s a perfect example. NeRO, NiRO, and NYRO... even if you had heard of her there are three perfectly reasonable ways to spell that name. Blrrggh. Fortunately I have a passing familiarity with DYNE, but that one is a little brutal. I feel about LAURA NYRO the same way Rex feels about Danny O’DAY.

NIP AT - All you PC Police can stand down. Nobody is coming for you because you use “nip” innocently. At the same time, it is perfectly reasonable for a crossword constructor to say that even innocently clued the potential for giving offense is too great so I’m not ever using that word. It’s the same reason I never use “niggard” or “niggardly,” both perfectly fine words that are etymologically unrelated to the racial slur, but why would I even risk being misunderstood? Just not worth the risk.

@Benny Boy late yesterday - Apologies for dooking on what you meant. I also was bemused that you agreed with me that one formation wasn’t used and then gave an example where people would use that formation. If programmers would use it alone then I’d have to argue that it can be considered okay used alone.

The Joker 9:32 AM  

Danny O'Day had a brother named Time.

Bageleater 9:33 AM  

Also, you can still buy a Danny O’Day dummy on Amazon.

A friend of Jerry 9:39 AM  

Sinefeld season 4, episode 3:

Jerry is on a plane returning to New York City when a drunk man, Gavin Polone (played by Joseph Maher), seated next to him falls sick and asks Jerry to take care of his dog while he is taken to the hospital. He promises to reclaim the dog when he comes to New York. The dog, Farfel, irritates Jerry with its barking and making messes. Jerry feels as though he does not dare leave his apartment, for fear of what Farfel might do

Z 9:41 AM  

@The Joker - Danny O’DAY and the Time?

Nancy 9:46 AM  

@GILL (8:35)-- Thank you, thank you, for finding this puzzle h-a-a-r-d. I thought I was losing my mind.

@kitshef (9:09)-- I hate those ultra-vague, arbitrary and slangy clues every bit as much as you do. While I really like and admire Will Shortz, this is a genre of cluing that's ballooned under his tenure, and it really should be dialed back.

@Unknown (8:56) and Todd (9:01) -- A huge and fervent "Amen" to you both!

Fiona 9:53 AM  

Other words to be avoided in any context: Zip, chink, taffy, ape, dink, toad, banana, Twinkie, skip,chug, slant,dot, kraut, slope, cracker, snowflake, spade, coon, spook, paddy, Oreo, mick, kebab, guinea, frog,

GHarris 9:54 AM  

May I second pretty much everything said by @ Nancy. My only way through this monster was to resort to Auto check and to ask for the reveal of two squares. No joy in proceeding in that fashion but I rationalize that it sharpens my solving skills for future encounters.

puzzlehoarder 10:06 AM  

The stacks in the NW and SE corners were great as we're most of the long downs, however the fill could be quite bad and it stifled my enjoyment of the puzzle.

First impressions are important. I wish I could have cold guessed MOODRINGS. I started in the NE because SLITS was so easy. SMARTIE was the first thing that came to mind for 10D but I wished it weren't. It's spooning with INKY and they're both crossed with BENICE. That's a lot of low brow material for one section. Next up HAIRY is paired with HOLE for some unfortunate optics. Then it's back to the ho-hum with MIDDLES and EFILER. In the SW it's all topped off by the cringe inducing clue for FEMME. The entire NE to SW swath was bad early week material. All that distasteful glue holding those terrific corners together really stuck and it brought down my opinion of the puzzle.

RooMonster 10:11 AM  

Hey All !
Knew Rex would rate this as easy, since I struggled everywhere. Ample and unabashed use of Check Puzzle button to get through this, and still took me an hour. Ouch. No direct cheat, and did manage to finish, but still Check Puzzle, which isn't a real finish. If you know what I'm trying to say. :-)

That SE corner was insane. NW tough, too. Couldn't get MOOD to enter the ole brain. "What kind of RINGS?" was what I kept thinking. Tried lOve there. And SLITS, kept wanting openS, even though "opener" was in the clue. Stuff like that kicked the ole butt all puz.

A few other missteps, rice-corn-TARO, corn leading to caPOFF for TOPOFF. And what the heck is POT DE CREME? Damn French. (:-) Is that racist?) Also AbOve for ALOFT.
And someone explain HOLE for Course division, please. Potholes? Har.

Anyway, hope y'all got your hard-puz fix.

YesterBee, missed by 6 words, of which I really should have gotten 4 of them. But, dang, that was something. Ended at 498 points for me.

Four F's

pabloinnh 10:14 AM  

I like Saturday puzzles that occasionally make me feel smart, like knowing LAURANYRO and Gene KRUPA and getting LADOLCEVITA off the V in VETO. Also knowing that Joyce Kilmer is a guy, (c'mon OFL). OTOH, SHARPIE does not work for SMARTIE, and Jimmy Nelson may as well be David and Ricky's long-lost brother, for all I know about him. MABEL was one of those 0h yeah, MABEL moments when you know it when you see it. And I've seen ADELE's last name often enough to remember it, but I never do. ESPERANTO always makes me want to sing ESPERANTO, why don't you come to your senses..., but I control myself.

All in all, a worthy and rewarding battle. Many thanks to DP and BW, and condolences to those among us who found this impossible.

Sixthstone 10:16 AM  

Did not enjoy this much. There was some cleverness, but the content is so old. Really surprised Rex didn't rant about this being a puzzle from the 70s. I mean a lot of this stuff is ancient: OLD SMOKEY, MOOD RINGS, Esther ROLLE, LAURA NYRO, MABEL, ARCADES, ESPERANTO, ODAY, TREES, LA DOLCE VITA, Gene KRUPA. Granted, some of this would be fine, but overall my deceased grandfather would have enjoyed this more than I did.

Also, I'm not buying BRIER. It's hideous. Everyone knows it's BRIAR.

Anonymous 10:16 AM  

I had a fairly easy time with this one. As an "old" myself, I remembered Jimmy O'Day and Farfel from the Nestle commercials. (N-E-S-T-L-E-S, Nestle makes the very best..."chAWWclAT.") "Mabel" came easily as Linda Ronstadt famously portrayed her in a version of "Pirates." Gene Krupa was a gimme, after I had entered Cola. While "Nip" was most certainly a slur during WWII, it's a perfectly good verb. (Nip and tuck, no problem.) Yes, some of these clues refer to people who were born before Millennials entered the scene, e.g., Laura Nyro. Is it now wrong to include historical references in crosswords?

TTrimble 10:19 AM  

With regard to NIP -- I do understand how people might resent the idea of self-policing a word like that (in case it needs explaining, "Nip" as a derogatory term for a Japanese person is from "Nippon", which is anglicized Japanese for "Japan"). But all Rachel said is that she has taken NIP out of her word lists, meaning she herself would avoid using it in a puzzle, not that she was declaring it out of bounds in other contexts. Rex himself thought it was a borderline case for a XW, that he would avoid using it because it might bug some people -- that was his *slight* recommendation. I didn't think either of them was outraged (I listened to the discussion several times with attention to their vocal tone); they were really just discussing their own practice as crossword constructors.

(Neither "chink" nor "nip" bother me in the slightest in crosswords, but then again, that might be easy for me to say. But I can't see anything to fault them on, when they are only trying to exercise some thoughtfulness for their readers.)

I remember the time when we were trying to sell our house in New Jersey and buying a new house in Connecticut. Our realty agent for the NJ house was a black woman, and she told me over the phone about a bid which I thought was too low vis a vis our asking price, and I -- as usual just letting the words come out of my mouth however they will -- described their offer as "niggardly". No audible reaction from her, and I carried on as if nothing had happened, but boy howdy how I really wish I had caught myself in time. Absolutely no etymological connection between that and you-know-what, but, you know, it's not a word everyone knows, and it's probably fair to say that the word is skunked unless you're with people who will understand and not judge. Better safe than sorry in other situations.

Georgia 10:23 AM  

A mobster will "off" someone on his hit list.

mathgent 10:31 AM  

I have criticized Lewis in the past for overpraising puzzles, but not today. He thought it was great and I heartily agree. It's an absolute gem. He gives most of the reasons.

TELLS at 13D. The only TELLS I've heard of are by poker players. Does it have to do with "I could tell from his expression that ..."?

Back when television had variety shows like Ed Sullivan, Jimmy Nelson would sometimes be on. I remember seeing him a few times. I didn't think that he was funny.

I think that LADOLCEVITA is overrated but Marcello was magnificent. That shot where he slides his shades up to better appreciate a lovely girl approaching.

Anita O'Day was a favorite of mine. I saw her many times when she appeared at the jazz clubs here in town.

I liked seeing a few words of ESPERANTO. I wonder if Loren has studied it.

Anonymous 10:37 AM  

with, over, ONTO ???? pick one.

may be it's my age, but butch was a bank shot reference: lesbians of a certain age (and time as such) adopted very short hair cuts, not, by the way, pixie cuts. in that time, boys got 'butch hair cuts', nearly skin head by today's standards, since boys were are generally unsanitary, so easier to keep sort of clean. thus said lesbians were either called 'butch' or adopted the term; I don't know which, and likely both.

ventriloquist factoid: Edgar Bergen likely, along with Shari Lewis (who?), most well known, started doing a radio show (when? let's see... 1930s) for many years, thus
"Bergen was a technically skilled ventriloquist, but after his talent moved to radio, it was more important that Charlie McCarthy be clearly understood, so Bergen's skill at not moving his lips was allowed to slip- and Charlie McCarthy frequently twitted him for moving his lips— but Bergen's sense of comedic timing was superb, and he handled Charlie's snappy dialog with aplomb."
the wiki

Tom 10:54 AM  

Like just about every Saturday, this one seemed impossible 15 minutes in, but I persisted with numerous corrections required (WITH and INTO before ONTO; TRA CE before ADELE, etc.). When, staring at my final open square, I guessed K for the KRUPA/KOLA combo and, "serve me up some POT DE CREME and shout praises ALOFT," I solved a Saturday well under my average time with no requests for "reveals."

Birchbark 10:58 AM  

I'm told of an experimental brewer who uses an oven rather than a stove. He BAKES ALES. When you taste his beer, it is like floating down a river on a RED RAFT. His financing company has two lending preferences. It is a biG MAC.

The SHARK WEEK conclusion brings to mind a throwaway line in "The Knight's Tale": "This is theffect, ther is namoore to seye."

Anonymous 11:02 AM  

love the people commenting that they remember laura nyro from the 1967 monterey pop festival. some real natick to me

bertoray 11:07 AM  

Anita O'DAY sang for the Gene KRUPA Orchestra back in the day, so it was nice seeing them together in the same grid. There's a swell video of Thanks for the Boogie Ride on the webs.

Northwest Runner 11:10 AM  

When I saw the clue for 53A I figured it had to be something like “Sundance” because they’re not going there are they? I had filled in the downs (and in fact the whole puzzle) before I gave it another thought. Poor editorial decision that should have had a redraft.

bocamp 11:13 AM  

"Trees", one of my favorites. Knew Joyce Kilmer. Curled with a mate by the name of Carol. He mostly went by Pep or Pepper.

@RooMonster 10:11 AM

My take on "hole": golf "course".

SB stuff and possible spoiler from yesterday:

Update: yd pg -2; knew both, one was so common; just didn't "notice" the "tree" for the forest. The other I had misspelled in my "@jae's List". As @Roo might say, "bah". LOL

Peace Tolerance Kindness Togetherness 🕊

Newboy 11:19 AM  

Thanks for sharing the fun with Rachel and acknowledging even Rex can suffer gender confusion occasionally. Liked this one a bunch though it was creeping toward the hour mark for closing. Just on the edge of getable/yowzer terrain. Well worth the effort! One cheat to fill DYNE that was an echo of high school physics half a century back and was obvious but too deeply buried. Didn’t feel like a SMARTIE today for sure.

TJS 11:20 AM  

Golf course,@Roo. Ther's 18 of'em.

JC66 11:21 AM  

This was super tough for me. Had to use Puzzle Check in NE to finish.


In case you're not kidding, Happy Birthday!

Hobbyist 11:24 AM  

I found this to be tricky and hard. I like these tough puzzles and the objection to “nip at” is just nuts. No more comment but political correctness has reached a nonsense level.

Carola 11:27 AM  

Tough, including a "I'll never finish the NW" moment of despair, but fun to keep at and rewarding to finish.
Help from previous puzzles: SET THEORY, WALT, ADELE, NYRO.
Help from being old: OLD SMOKEY, KRUPA, LA DOLCE VITA
Do-overs: MABle, BRIaR. The older I get, the worse I spell (insert consternation emoji).
No idea: O'DAY, DAB, GMAC.

Richard 11:40 AM  

I appreciate OFL's snarky, get-off-my-lawn vibe. (I really do). But @Lewis 9:09 inevitably captures my own take on virtually every puzzle. This was no exception: a struggle, full of wondrous misdirects, frustrations, aha moments, and -- finally -- the POTDECREME/OLDSMOKEY cross. Done and done!

My big stumbling block came after I casually dropped in CREMEBRULE (sic) at 27 D, which gummed up most of the West (even though I knew that brulee had two "e"s, I was thinking "variant"? I also (thought I) knew ODELL Beckham, Jr. (he of the famous one-handed catch). But, I'd already inked in the wrong letters, which makes it hard to see the crosses.

Lots of running the alphabet on this one. Incidentally, this RTA mnemonic device is helpful in myriad situations, e.g., trying to remember that seventh dwarf (Sneezy), or that ninth Supreme Court Justice (Breyer), or that seventh Mercury astronaut (Grissom). I use it every day, and not just on x-words. It's even better than counting sheep at two am. zzzzzz

Frantic Sloth 11:44 AM  

It's NEER-O with a short "i", not NEYE-RO. My teeth are still screaming "Stop!!" over this.
And Rex? I'm happy for you (and more than a little jealous) that your wife is making apple caramels; however, please refrain from eating them while doing your video. That constant *smack* *smack* smacking was otherworldlyingly annoying.
I'ma need an entire set of dentures now.

Oh, yeah - the puzzle. Liked this one a lot. Maybe because I'm old? Also, it was no walk in the park as far as difficulty goes.
Absolutely knew KRUPA and ROLLE, and even Jimmy Nelson was vaguely familiar. But Farfel and, oh my God - that Nestles song/ad was the clearer memory. Yikes!

Wasn't there some kind of mashup song about meatballs and/or spaghetti sung to the tune of OLDSMOKEY? Or was that just one of the verses? 🤣

All the longs were fab, but WORDSFAILME was my particular favorite. Unfortunately, it also describes my constant predicament when just carrying on a simple conversation.

Once again, no problem with NIPAT or even FEMME itself. But, like Rachel, I was not fond of the clue.
Sometimes this editorial staff just needs to stop and use their thinking bone. 🙄



I just learned that my first comment was rejected for a formatting error, so I'm posting these together.

@TTrimble 214am Again, ditto! That NW section stymied me until the last. I was a little miffed that R&R had so little trouble with it.
Also had "with" instead of ONTO for the longest time. Then there was SETTHEORY and well, you know. 😉

In his write-up after the video, Rex admits his ignorance about Joyce Kilmer being a man, not a woman.
I didn't know either, but who wants my kind of company??

And that whole SLEET is worse than HAIL claim he makes is just plain Martian-think/speak.
Cripes. If I only read your comments first, I just could have done the ol' copy/paste doohickey. Go know.

@Lolcat Lisa 734am. 🤣👍 Also, love your moniker.

@ChuckD 896am You're not the only one who "can't keep up". Might I suggest "giving up" as a new strategy and just plead absence of malicious ignorance whenever someone "corrects" you. Works for me. 😉

Also, @David Sinclair 829am Preach! 👍👍👍

@GILL 835am MIDDLES! Hated it and its POC self. But, please, next time you travel, I want you to say those very words to the flight attendant. Then report back.

The more I read the comments, the more it saddens me that nobody knows who Laura NYRO was. But, I guess she would have preferred it that way?

@kitshef 909am I gave ARROW and its clue the ol' arched eyebrow, too. Just a strange choice for a clue, IMHO.

Others mention MOODRINGS. That was actually a forehead slap for me when it finally emerged. Knew "bands" was a misdirect, but was thinking more "fabric" than "jewelry".

@pabloinnh 1014am. Yeah. Thanks for the ear worm. Not. 🤣

@Sixthstone 1016am I'm curious and ignorant, so please explain how ESPERANTO is 70s.

Teedmn 11:50 AM  

This ran long for me but it was enjoyable. I only had one write-over and it made me smile; when I splatzed in BRIaR, I thought, "Could be BRIER". OLD SMOKEY changed it like "on top of spaghetti, all covered with cheese".

I'll admit to being tempted to change DYNE to DiNE when NYRO looked odd but I didn't. And I was pretty sure about KOLA so I also got KRUPA correct but the SE was pretty HAIRY.

We weren't able to finish watching "Breaking Bad" - by the middle of the 4th season, it was so dark, it depressed us to even think about turning it on. So I had to run the alphabet to get any part of WALT's name as that section was completely blank at the time.

TREES - There is (or was, last time I rode it) a plaque with that poem on the Elroy-Sparta bike trail in Wisconsin. It was either in Norwalk or Wilton. We used to make a water stop under the tree it was near and try to memorize the poem. I never quite succeeded.

Could it be a necessity of sea-faring to add an a- in front of words? Perhaps the lead-in a- allows the rest of the word to be heard better over the crash of waves? There's aport, and according to Rex, astarboard, there's aweather and alee. Just a thought, probably a ridiculous one.

DP and BW, thanks for the workout.

Anonymous 11:54 AM  

Know Joyce Kilmer from the rest area on New Jersey Turnpike (What Exit ? Between 8A and 9 since you asked) and as a character in The Fighting 69th, which starred James Cagney and Pat O’Brien. Alfred Joyce Kilmer was Killed in Action in France in 1918 at aged 31. Wonder what he’d think of today’s crybullies. The New York Times critic, seventeen years after Sgt. Kilmer was KIA, excoriated Trees : “Trees' maddens me,'' Heywood Broun wrote in 1935, ''because it contains the most insincere line ever written by mortal man. Surely the Kilmer tongue must have been not far from the Kilmer cheek when he wrote, 'Poems are made by fools like me.' '’ RIP .

old timer 11:54 AM  

You didn't hear me laugh today, since our dear @LMS did not post one of her hilarious takes on life. But you did he me chuckle when I saw what @Lewis had to say. My sentiments exactly. Though the puzzle was in many respects Easy for me -- I saw LA DOLCE VITA when it came out, and I was maybe 16 and had never thought about most of the things portrayed in the movie. Glad I saw it though. BAMESALES I put in with no crosses, and WORDSFAILME, and ARGADES and OLD SMOKEY made POT DE CREME a piece of cake. Well, not cake exactly, really a glorified chocolate pudding, but so often the perfect way to end a fancy meal: "I'll have the POT DE CREME please, with an espresso, and do you have a B&B to go with that too?"

Seemed to me BROKE EVEN is just wrong. I am used to the world of Silicon Valley startups, and for that matter local businesses of all sorts, and the moment a company breaks EVEN is cause to break out the bubbly. It is not the point of no return, it is the point when you can expect a return and dream of big profits in the future.

Crimson Devil 12:04 PM  

OFFER SHEET clue of the day, imho.

Mike G 12:05 PM  

Great argument!

Me, I would have read the comments, noted that it was Rachel (not Rex) that removed Nip from her list of words, and maybe said something to the effect of "Geez. It seems to me that context matters and maybe the use of Nip as a verb is slightly different than the use of Nip as a pejorative term and maybe it's OK to continue to use in in a context like this one. What's your take on this Rachel and why do you see it differently?"

But you, sir, took a bold move, built a strawman argument, and went straight for Cancel Culture! I'm in awe. My inability to come up with a phrase like that off the cuff (Cancel Culture... it's alterative, dismissive, and meaningless all at the same time... wow!) is the kind of rhetorical flaw that sadly prevents me from building a cult of unthinking followers on Twitter.

JD 12:14 PM  

@Todd, There's that liberal arts degree holding me back again. I always thought it meant no going back on this path, just keep moving. It's been a long time to be under the wrong impression. Thanks!

JD 12:15 PM  

Forgot to mention, @Frantic, I still know all the words to On Top of Spaghetti. That I know.

Swagomatic 12:19 PM  

Well, the ODAY clue was absurdly obscure. RETD, needs to go away. I liked much of this one but those two clues really bugged me. Overall a pretty pretty okay puzzle.

Anonymous 12:36 PM  

I kvetched about BROKE EVEN, since 'point of no return' generally means half-way on some journey which is either danger or fuel limited. OTOH, if 'return' means profit, then when you BROKE EVEN, going down from profitability, you've reached no profit (aka, returns).

Z 12:37 PM  

@Sixthstone - You’ll be happy to know that Merriam-Webster starts its definition with less common spelling of BRIAR.

@Frantic - ¿Wha? Short i? Not like Rye but like reed methinks.

@TTrimble : re NIP AT - Exactly. @Complainers - Lots of people were offended by Biden’s inaugural address because they felt like he was implying they were racist. My reaction then was, “well, if the hood fits...” I hope it’s not true of you but I’m having that same reaction.

Bree140 12:43 PM  

The name “Sharp” also “contains a word that can be a racial
slur”, as any Irish person of a certain age knows. Guess
you’ll have to change your last name if you want to be
perfectly pure, Mike.

A 12:47 PM  

Happy Whack-a-Proper-Noun Day!

I counted at least 17 PPP. Looked up MABEL, WALT and ODELL, and worked out the rest. Never watched Breaking Bad or Sharkweek. Lauran who? But a faint memory of DYNE got me out of that mess.

Even ITSELF, TREES, TOY and DAB - why clue them as names? Guess we should be grateful RED RAFT isn’t the name of the DeLorean from Back to the Future XXX.

Other missed APORTunities:
FLIP Wilson
Air Ferrets ALOFT (a gimme for Richard Bach fans)
HOLE in the wall gang
ARTE Johnson (veeery interesting!)
The Green ARROW
BOOK of Kells

All those names made me thankful even for the relatively inferable answers to the vague clues. At least with a few crosses you can come up with words that work together.

Good stuff:
MOODRINGS were fun. Hey, I was 12.
MIST - Indoor rain is just cool.
TEASE before NIPAT, but nip at makes me think of puppy breath, so yay.
Esther ROLLE was my favorite character on Good Times.
BISON - Go Bills!
Gene KRUPA - Remember Radar O’Reilly’s imitation? Krupa bequeathed Burghoff a drum kit.
POT DE CREME sounds delicious!
WORDSFAILME was apt today!
LA DOLCE VITA - Nino Rota’s score is genius.
But then there’s this from the opening of Roger Ebert’s writeup in 1997:
“I have heard theories that Federico Fellini's "La Dolce Vita" catalogs the seven deadly sins, takes place on the seven hills of Rome, and involves seven nights and seven dawns, but I have never looked into them, because that would reduce the movie to a crossword puzzle.” Hey, BENICE Ebert!

INKY presses, everyone! Off to a Zoom meeting with my friend in the hospital.

Anonymous 12:57 PM  

well, Brer Rabbit called it a briarpatch. see the wiki. and skip the Snowflake protestations. I know Harris was a Southern white dude.

"The bowls of tobacco pipes are commonly made of briar wood"
the wiki

Mammy Yokum has spoken

Barbara S. 1:00 PM  

Had a strange experience with this one. Solved the entire eastern half with no problem – knew ROLLE and LAURA NYRO, intuited MABEL, ADELE and SHARK WEEK, liked BROKE EVEN and its clue. Wondered if KRUPA was actually KRUPKA, but decided I was getting it muddled with Officer Krupke from “West Side Story.” But when I went back to the western half…almost nothing went right. I had WALT, EFILER and WORDS FAIL ME as my only entries for the longest time: I guess WORDS did FAIL ME. I had relOad for TOPOFF which, cruelly, worked just as well with its cross. I put in “holds fasT” for STANDS PAT and I held fast for far too long. I own a MOOD RING for heaven’s sake (yes, from the ‘70s) and I couldn’t see it. I fell into the rice/TARO potHOLE, which messed up a bunch of answers. I recognized the penultimate line from the Joyce Kilmer poem and then couldn’t think what the poem was called, when there could hardly be a more straightforward title for anything. And on and on. It was a DNF for me. Potential racism aside, NIP AT seems like a very odd match for “Pester playfully.” I don’t think those two mean the same thing at all (but then I’ve never owned a dog). Anyway, I thought it was a tough but worthy puzzle and was sorry not to be up to the challenge today.

When I was a kid in school we sang a song with the line: “Here shall a loyal nation ever guard the BULWARKs of the free.” I puzzled mightily over what work bulls did that was so incredibly important. (I didn’t know much about cattle ranching.)

I think of LAURA NYRO as more a songwriter than a singer but – yikes – she had a 3-octave range, so what am I saying! I guess she had a successful (although sadly short) career as both. And, according to that Wiki article (thanks, @Frantic), her influence is wide and deep. Here's LAURA with "Wedding Bell Blues". This song has a wonderful, lilting rhythm -- feel free to dance around your kitchen. And here's Blood, Sweat and Tears with "And When I Die", another gem written by LAURA NYRO.

@Nancy (from last night)
I spotted you as a Truthteller right from the start!

Did you ever reveal the answer to your Liars/Truthtellers conundrum?

Z 1:04 PM  

Since Rex forgot, Stone Soul Picnic.

newbie 1:09 PM  

Everything had me stumped. I plodded through, slowly, slowly. Finally asked my husband about the NFL player whose first name escaped me - ODELL! Of course, although I never would have guessed that. Finally got it all except had Nero for Nyro - don't ask me about dene instead of dyne - could have been anything as far as I was concerned, until I saw dyne, then "of course!"

Maybe I'm too into my Chet and Bernie books but nip only made me think of a puppy teasing another dog.

Dear Rex, you are just a bit too young! Danny O'Day was, indeed, the top dummy. He talked the most. Although I couldn't think of it either, it hit me after a couple of the cross letters. I actually thought that the ventriloquist might be Danny O'Day. Farfel was secondary but beloved, Danny being a smart-mouth and Farfel being the drawling, funny one. We named our real-life dachsund-beagle mix with the long ears and nose Farfel. The commercial came later but was very popular: n-e-s-t-l-e-s Nestles makes the very best (here comes Farfel) chooooclate (crack! sound of his long jaw snapping shut). Happy memory!

Miss Manners 1:17 PM  

@Frantic. I haven't seen the solving video yet. If the *smack* *smack* smacking annoys me, I will simply stop watching and refrain from scolding Mr Parker in public.

albatross shell 1:19 PM  

I'm with @GILL I, ROO, Nancy on difficulty and strain, but not many of the complaints. HOLE was my first thought and put it in when it was my only thought. With 2 crosses, and aisles and windows not possible, MIDDLES went ini without even a side eye. My biggest nit was BRIaR. Who are these BRIER people? DictionEry folks seem to know them. O well.

LAURA NYRO unknown to so many, skewing old folks. Yeah, I shudda suspected. And A PORT in the puzzle
with her and no mention of When I was A Free PORT and You were the Main Drag.

If anyone can name 2 jazz drummers, don't they know Gene Krupa?

If you can name 2 Fellini movies isn't one of them La Dolce Vita?

If you can name 2 ventriloquist dummies isn't...never mind. Forget that one.
Liked the clues, liked the stuff I knew, liked the obscurities. It was Saturday. Needed a few cheats to get most of it done. West harder than the East. Couldn't finish off the NW corner.

Chip Hilton 1:47 PM  

I feel bad for all of you who didn’t know LAURANYRO. As @Barbara S. indicated, she was an extraordinary talent, both as a song writer and a performer. Sadly, a troubled soul, gone far too soon. Anyway, she was my first entry today and one of my last was ODAY, which ticked me off because I’m old enough to remember Jimmy Nelson well. Good ol’ Farfel, selling N-e-s-t-l-e-s chocolate. That whole NW corner killed me starting with the misdirection on MOODRINGS. It didn’t drop until I tried MIST, at which point it crumbled in seconds, including the aforementioned dummy. A fun, appropriately resistant Saturday. Thanks, Doug & Brad.

Frantic Sloth 1:51 PM  

@Z 1237pm Short "i" like NYRO. 😉 Could maybe sound like ee, which can sound like a short "i" depending on your region. Otherwise, I guess you can think "trip, sip, blip, etc….which, come to think of it, also depends on region. Oh, forget it.

Thanks to @Barbara S and @Z for the musical links.

@Miss Manners 117pm Which is why you are called "Miss Manners" and I am not. Besides, my reprimand is only half-serious; however, I should have realized that criticizing Rex in any way is strictly verboten. 😉

@JD 1215pm Well???

bocamp 2:14 PM  

@Barbara S. 1:00 PM

Thank you for the Laura "Nyro" links. I didn't recognize the name (which slowed me down in the NE), but certainly recognize her songs. Also, what a wonderful singing voice she has!

And, thx for the mention of @mathgent's Liars/Truthtellers conundrum. I had missed it from his comments on the 21st (I need to read comments more carefully, rather than quick scanning). I enjoy these logic puzzles immensely. The one he mentioned is a classic, and straightforward logic reveals the answer.

Here's one (along the same lines) that I've been working on for years. I've filled many pages in my puzzles notebook trying to solve it:

“Three gods A, B, and C are called, in some order, True, False, and Random. True always speaks truly, False always speaks falsely, but whether Random speaks truly or falsely is a completely random matter. Your task is to determine the identities of A, B, and C by asking three yes-no questions; each question must be put to exactly one god. The gods understand English, but will answer all questions in their own language in which the words for ‘yes’ and ‘no’ are ‘da’ and ‘ja’, in some order. You do not know which word means which.”

I'm thinking @mathgent & @TTrimble, among others on this blog, would be able to arrive at the correct solution.

Spoiler here.

td pg -1

Peace Tolerance Kindness Togetherness 🕊

TTrimble 2:17 PM  

@Frantic Sloth
"Hear hear" with regard to *smack smack*. I was sort of hate-listening to it in a wee hour of the morning, wondering all the while: is Rex chewing gum? Noisy gum-chewing is gross. I was partly glad it wasn't gum, but then annoyed all over again seeing Rex with caramel stuck to his saliva-flecked fingers, noisily sucking it off. Yuck.

(I have a peculiar problem. I was very glad a few months ago when I heard Bon Appetit chef Brad Leone give a name to it, a problem he shares: misophonia. It's a certain neurological condition. In my case it first manifested when I was about 11 years old, when I found that my parents' gum-chewing, this disgusting open-mouthed sloshy chew, had now become just about completely intolerable -- I would be practically writhing in misery whenever I had to be around it -- and I could never explain or for that matter even admit it to anyone. It went on to encompass noisy food-chewing in general, swallowing noises, throat-gurgling, etc., etc. Before my wife heard learned this was a real thing, she would just sort of roll her eyes at what she considered my exaggerated sensitivity and finickiness, but after listening to Leone talk about this and then reading about this, she became a lot more sympathetic.

The condition seems to have gotten worse recently, where I am very jumpy around sudden or slightly sharp noises, such as a cabinet door being shut abruptly. It's a little bit comical, actually, but I'm glad to know I'm not alone in having this weird idiosyncrasy. It's caused some problems over the years.)

Anonymous 2:27 PM  

I guess I'm glad that I don't know enough racist terms that I had to figure out what the racist part of 7D was. I think this is one that is all about context. Using this word as verb in phrase is very different than angrily shouting it as a noun at somebody.

I do agree that treating butch/femme as binary options isn't a good way to think about a diverse segment of our population. But I would also argue that the clue doesn't restrict lesbians to just the options and that there is a real dynamic of these out there in the world.

Christopher Sibilia 2:40 PM  

Having worked for a short time in a Kosher kitchen at an assisted living facility, the M-W definition of FARFEL is the only one I know.

Frantic Sloth 2:58 PM  

@TTrimble 217pm Wow. I wasn't that serious about it but thrilled to afford you an opening to enlighten me about misophonia. How awful for you and others to suffer from something so rare that many medical professionals are unaware. Hardly anything more frustrating than having your symptoms not taken seriously, and so blithely disregarded as a "mood" thing. Sheesh.

A 3:17 PM  

@Frantic, @Z, @Barbara S - thanks for the Laura Nyro links!

I knew I had big HOLEs in my musical education but at least some of her compositions are very familiar. I even played arrangements of a few, courtesy of my high school band director. (ASCAP and BMI didn't police school bands so much then.)

Actually I'm enjoying listening to Laura's less popular tunes even more. I can see why they weren't played to death - she's not concerned with whether or not you can put simple dance steps to them. And the woman was not afraid of a moment of silence or a long instrumental "interlude." Meaningful poetry, imaginative composing, and excellent vocal and piano chops. Great stuff.

Thanks, Doug and Brad - I take back my complaints if this is the reward!

GILL I. 3:19 PM  

Oh good gravy....@Ttrimble 2:17.....There's a name for that? Oh, Lordy, I have misophonia. I have a disease that drives me bats. I'm getting worse as well. I have a dear friend with whom I now refuse to eat with. She smacks her lips, sometimes talks with her mouth full and licks her fingers. All I can bear to do is look at my little tomato in my little salad and hope it doesn't squeak like she does. My biggest "jump through the couch" is when those damn Amazon trucks back up and their loud horns don't stop all the way down the block.
@Miss Manner....I'm betting you're one of those that licks her chocolate fingers after Godiva has melted on them and you hope nobody is looking.
@A....I think I'm the resident nag here about getting a little avatar. You write well, you're entertaining and fun. Give yourself a little free picture so that we (I) can skip right over to your comments. It's free.

oisk17 3:21 PM  

Just was listening to a Benny Goodman cut yesterday (with Gene Krupa and Lionel Hampton.) There was a public service commercial on television about people of different races and religions making "beautiful music together." Teddy Wilson on piano... Laura Nyro has been in the puzzle frequently enough for me to get that clue right, and as a chem teacher I didn't stop on a dyne. Annoying to me, as always, was the extinct acronym GMAC. I got it in due time, but it played havoc with my mood rings....

JD 3:24 PM  


On top of spaghetti
All covered with cheese!
I lost my poor meatball
when somebody sneezed.
It rolled off the table
and on to the floooor,
and then my poor meatball
rolled on out the door.

Joaquin 3:50 PM  

@Rex - If the word NIP used in the context of this puzzle is offensive to you and/or Rachel, then words have, indeed, failed you.

A 4:01 PM  

@TTrimble (and @GILL. I) So sorry about your misophonia. You may know this but just in case, some nutritional deficiencies can contribute to sensitivity to noise and the jittery feeling. Vitamin B1, for example, omega-3 and, of course, magnesium. Theanine is calming, too. Worth checking out if you haven't already.

@GILL, thanks for the inspiration, I'll see what I can do!

Anonymous 4:16 PM  


Keith D 4:28 PM  

Not sure you know what a strawman argument is... in any event, it would appear that mentioning “cancel culture” in and of itself is worthy of cancellation, as my original comment was deleted. Too funny.

Anonymous 4:33 PM  

To me MABEL, will always be the love interest of Baseball Joe, in the childs'-literature series by Lester Chadwick. Baseball Joe, or Joe Matson, was based on Christy Mathewson; his manager, John MacRae (?) based on J. McGraw, etc. How you "clean up" for children someone as squeaky-clean as Christy Mathewson remains a mystery, and I have trouble now realizing that I found those silly stories riveting.

Anon. i.e. Poggius

sanfranman59 4:34 PM  

Medium-Challenging NYT Saturday ... 16% above my 6-month median ... I know I'm almost always in for a tussle when these two constructors team up. This seemed like an almost perfect Saturday puzzle. There were several times when I doubted that I'd get through it, but with patience and skillful construction, I managed to fight to a successful finish. It was very satisfying to enter the last cross.

Somewhat unusually, it was the PPP that baled me out of the tough spots ... ODELL {50A: Star N.F.L. receiver ___ Beckham Jr.} and OLD SMOKEY {36A: Snow-capped peak of song} in the SW, KRUPA {43D: Gene who's considered "the founding father of the modern drum set"} and LAURA NYRO {51A: "Stoned Soul Picnic" songwriter} in the SE, ROLLE {21A: Esther of TV's "Good Times"}, ADELE {18A: Grammy winner with the surname Adkins} and LA DOLCE VITA {11D: Classic film that gave us the term "paparazzi"} in the NE, GMAC {8D: Finance co. rebranded as Ally Financial} in the NW. On the other hand, MABEL {16A: "The Pirates of Penzance" ingénue} and O'DAY {3D: Danny ___, ventriloquist dummy for Jimmy Nelson}, were all crosses and pattern recognition. According to XWordInfo, O'DAY has now been in 43 Shortz-era puzzles and has been clued with reference to Anita 40 times. The other three are this one and two times as R&B/pop singer/reality TV star Aubrey.

Grouch 4:37 PM  

My misophonia is triggered by bagpipes. And sopranos.

Simpson 4:52 PM  

Baffled and somewhat offended this could be labeled “easy” by any means. I must be the Dummy!

jberg 4:59 PM  

Yeah, vague and misleading cluing -- the first entry I got, working the As from the top, was APORT. (@Rex, get someone to take you out on a sailboat a few times -- picking up the nautical terms will be of great help in future solving!)

I did think some of the clues were a bit off. I thought that of BROKE EVEN until @Todd explained it -- but TOP OFF is what you do to a construction project or a gas tank; when you refresh a drink you top it up.

I've heard of SHARK tank, but not the WEEK. Are they related? And I really resisted that E in OLD SMOKEY. Wikipedia says that's a variant.

OTOH, KRUPA/KOLA were gimmes. But that's a niche thing -- @albatross shell, I expect most people cannot name even one jazz drummer. I can rattle off 5 or 6 without thinking, but I'm a fan, and also have one in the family.

Whatever happened to ESPERANTO? They used to be pretty active trying to convince you to learn it, but not so much anymore.

As usual, people should read @Rex more carefully -- he does not say that SLEET is worse than hail, he says that "unwelcome," referring to human feelings, is less of a moral condemnation than calling hail "bad."

Anonymous 5:07 PM  

"Mabel!! Black Label"

GILL I. 5:09 PM  

@A...and hopefully about to have an avatar.....I think my problem with "hearing deficiencies" might be because of screams, and chews, and sopranos and @Grouch bagpipes taking up my space when I've not wanted them to. I'll start a vitamin regime and get back to you... :-)

TTrimble 5:10 PM  

@FS, @Gill I.
Thanks for your sympathies, Frantic. @Gill: it's a tough nut. I have a personal trainer who used to chew gum around me until I finally made up my mind to ask if he would mind not doing that. (This is long before I knew the name of this disorder.) He and I are good friends and he accepted what I was telling him, and I told him then a little of my struggles with the darned thing. It was a somewhat awkward conversation, but I think it would have been rather less awkward had I known a little more as I do now. Now we're able to laugh about it, and I'm able to go into detail about the trouble I've had on account of it. It's such a weird thing!

Anyway, I think it might be possible for you to talk about this with a close friend. It's just this neurological thing you have little control over and that you can't help. Or, barring that, you can do what I used to do, which is put little plugs in your ears before you sit down to lunch, either flesh-colored, or otherwise just arrange your hair to cover them up. (I just used little pieces of toilet tissue and jammed them in there.) My *own* chewing noises are a whole lot more manageable to me than the noises of others! And your own noises are what you would hear. Although this means you might have to occasionally ask your friend to repeat what she said. :-)

The licking of fingers and flying food particles -- can't help you with that one. :-)

Thanks for that problem! I'll have a look. I'm not that good actually at those sorts of logic puzzles, but my spidey sense is that since there are exactly 12 different scenarios, this problem, seen the right way, could be isomorphic to a classic counterfeit coin problem where you have 12 coins and one of them, the counterfeit, is unequal in weight to the others which all weigh the same (the problem is use a balance to find the counterfeit in three or fewer weighings, which is like asking three questions). In any case, one can presumably translate the problem into a decision tree problem with 12 branches.

When I took the GREs decades ago, there was a general test component like the SAT, which was subdivided into a verbal, a quantitative, and a logical part (IIRC, this was the morning test; the afternoon test was for the particular area of specialty, in my case mathematics). I had not practiced at all doing those kooky logical problems. You know the sort: Bob, Carol, Ted and Alice are friends but exactly one of them is a thief; Bob and Alice had dinner on Thursday night, all but Ted were wearing a coat on Tuesday morning, and so forth and so on. I tried doing those puppies in my head, and really didn't get all that far (plus I was trying to do all this through a hangover -- I was such a crazy kid in those days). Lucky for me, I crushed my specialty part. :-)

Barbara S. 5:45 PM  

@Anonymous (5:07 PM)

Yes! That's been in my head all day. Now if only she'd gone over and decked the guy in the plaid shirt.

TTrimble 5:51 PM  

Hey, saw your mild scolding regarding SLEET and HAIL, which I am guessing was directed at my first post. In my defense, I was actually referring to Rex's spoken commentary during the solving video. As best as I can transcribe it (starting just before 13:00), here is what he said:

"See, I was mad today because they called hail "bad fall", and I was mad, I was defending hail, because... Hail's not bad, it just is. But I actually think sleet is bad. Like, hail is hail, but, uh, but freezing rain is bad."

Of course he was being a little bit jocular. And of course so was I in pushing back a little. Not realizing that my words' feet were going to be held to a fire, I didn't bother recalling his spoken words super-accurately in my modest little write-up at two in the morning, but on the basis of his words now, and stretching them only a little, it looks like he's saying that he dislikes sleet more than hail.

Frantic Sloth 6:11 PM  

@GILL 319pm Ditto what I said to @TTrimble regarding misophonia. Good info courtesy of avatarless-but-soon-to-be-corrected @A my name is Mimi. Sorry. I just like saying that. 😁 Do report back about your new vitamin regimen... and that other thing.

@JD 324pm Of course!! How I could have forgotten the lyrics about a rambling meatball is utterly beyond my ken. Thanks, sistah!

Time for the Sundee!

Z 7:53 PM  

@TTrimble - Regarding giving Rex Hail Hell, in the clip Rachel mildly chides Rex for that “fine line” and he responds with “glad you agree.” I take the whole thing as at least a little jocular. I also took his attitude as evidence that he has experienced SLEET far more often than hail. Personally, both have a fair amount of destructive potential, but the most common form of hail is no big deal while SLEET is always misery inducing and comes around more often, so I’d say SLEET is worse.

@Barbara S and others - I was going to ask earlier, do we still make MABELs?

@jberg - Everything you never needed to know about SHARK WEEK. No, it is not related to SHARK tank.

Kimber 8:39 PM  

You ppl that say this was an 'easy' puzzle really drive me crazy. This was NOT easy. I consider myself a 5 or 6 level puzzle solver (on a scale of 1-10) and this thing stumped me on so many levels. NE, SE, and NW corners were brutal for me! It absolutely crushes me everytime I come here after and see Rex go 'EASY' (with the obligatory '-medium' addendum that never makes it better. I guess these ratings don't apply to mortals.

Whoosey Whatsis 8:41 PM  

"Iceberg ahead off the starboard bow."
"Aye, Cap'n - helm's hard aport."

A 9:23 PM  

@TTrimble "my words' feet" really ticked my tarsals!

@Frantic - "avatarless-but-soon-to-be-corrected @A my name is Mimi" does have a certain je ne sais quoi. I'd change my nom d'blog to but it might slow down the mods.

PS. I had no idea dun wasn’t just a lovely horse color:
dun (v.)”to insist on payment of debt," 1620s, also as a noun, "agent employed to collect debts," of uncertain origin, perhaps related to Middle English dunnen "to sound, resound, make a din" (c. 1200, dialectal variant of din), or shortened from dunkirk (c. 1600) "privateer," a private vessel licensed to attack enemy ships during wartime, from Dunkirk, the French port from which they sailed. The oldest theory traces it to a Joe Dun, supposedly a London bailiff famous for catching defaulters. (etymonline.com)

Karl 11:47 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
ASW-20 2:28 PM  

Weiß nicht, white night

Barbara 3:22 PM  

No tree of timber, bark, or phloem
Is half as lovely as a poem
A poem, beautiful and grand,
With something hard to understand
A poem, full of words and scores
Of similes and metaphors
Trees! Heck, any fool can grow ‘em
But it takes BRAINS to write a poem.

No idea of the origin of this, but my Uncle taught it to us when we learned Joyce Kilmer’s “Trees” in school.

Anniemac 11:13 PM  

EXACTLY my reaction to your examples of the many off-the-wall clues/answers. Some were just too much of a stretch to even make sense.
Middles was the worst. It was as if that’s what the constructor called them as a little kid, and his family thought it was so cute, they began calling them middles, too...so eventually we all must have, right?
Well, no. That’s like me writing the clue: “Lucky Strike is one brand of these items” and the answer was “Sasas.”
Because that’s what I called Dad’s cigarettes when I was a toddler.

Westword 10:23 AM  

Trivia quiz.

Mickey Bell 6:49 AM  

Sorry...for me this was a miserable slog that ended a streak. Yuck and will be watching out for this constructor’s name in the future.

spacecraft 11:47 AM  

DNF. Never heard of LAURANYRO; assumed it was NeRO and so couldn't get 47 a or d. DAB is a dance move??? And how is anybody supposed to know that 10 micronewtons = 1 DYNE?? Fair crosses, people. Gotta have at least passing fair crosses.

rondo 1:28 PM  

Not easy, but agree that it was a trivia test. Thing is I like trivia, so there's that. Two little inkfest areas having Bears stopping traffic and tracE as the original Adkins. LAURANYRO a gimme as was Gene KRUPA - dig those drums on 'Sing, Sing, Sing' when KRUPA played with Benny Goodman.

Never ceases to amaze me how easily offended certain folk are.

I enjoyed this bit of a struggle.

Burma Shave 2:00 PM  


MABEL took her TOPOFF, you see,
INDUETIME that FEMME got scary,


rainforest 2:24 PM  

For a variety of reasons I haven't attempted a Saturday puzzle very often, but I gave it a shot today, and completed it! A few gimmes; DUN, ITSELF, REDRAFT, APORT, DYNE, KRUPA, all helped to make the solution possible.

Overall quite challenging with many devious clues, and I still don't understand TOP OFF, but lots of interesting answers. I've heard of LAURA NYRO, but not the song, and DYNE tipped me off, but didn't TOP me OFF.

Good, strong puzzle.

thefogman 3:02 PM  

Challenging. Had a “Y” and not an “I” for DYNE amd LAURANYRO. The whole NW corner was a cluster flub. Cluing was a touch too cute SMARTIE pants for my liking.

leftcoaster 5:14 PM  

Either you know it or you don’t. I didn’t.

Diana, LIW 5:27 PM  

Another NameWord instead of CrossWord. @Rondo calls it trivia, but if you don't know it, you'll never suss it out. With wordplay you can work on it and finally get it - the pun or whatever wordplay.

So I got a lot of this - the wordplay part most certainly.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for someone else to have a trivia puzzle

Diana, LIW 5:30 PM  

PS - a friend in my dorm in college (last century) loved Laura Nyro. Played her day and night. We all got tickets and went to see her. One of the more non-famous writers of famous songs.

Lady Di

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