Delicacy also known as sablefish / SAT 1-2-21 / Milk slangily / Caribbean locale across the water from Morro Castle / Stopped a ship using the wind in nautical lingo

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Constructor: Joe Deeney

Relative difficulty: Medium (maybe easier ... it's an oversized grid again (16x15), so if you're a little slow today, blame that)

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: Cape Verde peninsula (8D: Capital on the Cape Verde peninsula => DAKAR) —
Cape Verde Peninsula, French Presqu’île du Cap Vert, peninsula in west-central Senegal that is the westernmost point of the African continent. Formed by a combination of volcanic offshore islands and a land bridge produced by coastal currents, it projects into the Atlantic Ocean, bending back to the southeast at its tip. Exposure to southwesterly winds contributes to Cape Verde’s seasonal verdant appearance, in contrast to the undulating yellow dunes to the north. The cape is the site of modern day Dakar, the capital of Senegal, and its immediate suburbs. (


• • •

It's always weird to see things written out in letters that you never actually see written out in letters, like BTWO, ARTOO, or (today) EEQUALSMCSQUARED (36A: Noted relationship in physics). It looks freaky, but I can't decide if that's a plus or a minus. Anyway, today that answer is the reason the puzzle is 16 wide, so I guess everyone involved thought it was marquee-type stuff. OK. The rest of the puzzle is strong enough that it doesn't really matter if you're on board the EEQUALSMCSQUARED train or not. Lots and lots of haven't-seen-that-before, and most of it tolerable or better. The slang is mildly grating—HELLA COOL feels a WEE bit dated (in a way that its clue, "Dope!," does not), and MOO JUICE, ugh, all infantilizing kiddyspeak like this makes my skin crawl—but that, I realize, is probably a highly idiosyncratic and personal response. Both bits of slang have (or have had) currency, and give the grid a zing that keeps it out of Dullsville. I'll take grating colloquialisms over nautical lingo any day (LAID TO, bah!) (44D: Stopped a ship using the wind, in nautical lingo). This one had bite in nearly every section, but those super-long answers were all super-easy to get, so it was easy to at least get a toehold in every corner of the grid. I struggled a bunch, but in a very normal Saturday way, and on balance ended up with favorable feelings about this one.

[Had HELLA GOOD before HELLA COOL; I blame this song]

Broken record here: the slowest part was the getting started part, i.e. the NW. When you have nothing (yet), you are in the worst position you are ever going to be in, solving-wise, so while you might start a puzzle very easily and eventually hit a place where you are dead stuck, in general, if you solve a lot of puzzles, the place you are likeliest to be slowest is the beginning. Today, BLACK COD, LOL, OK. That may as well have been clued [It's a color and a fish, good luck]. And now I realize it very nearly *is* clued that way (1A: Delicacy also known as sablefish), but I was thinking of sable as a fur not a color. Worst mistake I made up there was SLAKE at 1D: Slow down. Now I don't even think SLAKE can be made to mean that, but at the time, after realizing it was KEA and not LOA, SLAKE felt good. You ever have an answer that just feels *good* and then it ends up not only being wrong, but never having made sense in the first place. I think that's what I had on my hands here. Wait, no, I was right! SLAKE does mean "Slow down" ... kinda ... it's just a bit, you know, obsolete:
Slake is no slacker when it comes to obsolete and archaic meanings. Shakespearean scholars may know that in the Bard's day 
slake meant "to subside or abate ("No flood by raining slaketh. . . ." - The Rape of Lucrece) or "to lessen the force of " ("It could not slake mine ire, nor ease my heart." - Henry VI, Part 3). The most erudite word enthusiasts may also be aware of earlier meanings of "slake," such as "to slacken one's efforts" or "to cause to be relaxed or loose." These early meanings recall the word's Old English ancestor "sleac," which not only meant "slack" but is also the source of that modern term. (
So SLAKE is "correct" for the clue, in a highly-adjacent and obsolete sort of way. I will console myself with that. Or is it "condole?" I watched the new "Emma" on New Year's Eve and someone used "condole" and I thought "ooh cool word wait how is that different from 'console'?" Turns out, they're very similar in meaning, highly overlapping, but I've wandered away from the puzzle now, and it's getting late so...

Five things:
  • 9D: "That's enough out of you!" ("SHUT IT!")
     — I assume other people wrote in "QUIT IT!" at first here too. That seemed exactly like where a "Q" would go, and this puzzle seemed so fond of "Q"s ... and yet no. 
  • 35A: Actress/YouTube star Koshy (LIZA) — we all draw our lines, and here's one of mine: "YouTube star." I'm just out. Can't. Bridge too far. Be another kind of star. Can't even bother to look this one up. In this instance, I am an incurious bastard.
  • 18A: Speed up (HUSTLE) — had the H and S and T before I saw the clue, so *of course* I wrote in HASTEN. That is some awful luck right there. Usually great to have a bunch of crosses before you see a clue, but not when they lead you right over a cliff.
  • 50A: Euro forerunner (ÉCU) — so ... not the *immediate* "forerunner," then (this monetary unit officially died with the French Revolution). I might've gone with "ancestor" here, but OK. [see ***UPDATE, below]
  • 11D: Like some exotic drinks at tiki bars (SET ON FIRE) — went initially with LIT ON FIRE, which, unlike some of my other errors today, is entirely excusable, imho. I just read a great French-Canadian comic called Les Ananas de la Colère which was set in and around tiki bars, which are not necessarily my preferred kind of bar, but at this point I would give Anything to go into Any bar and just sit off to the side and drink my cocktail and solve my crossword and enjoy the blissful feeling of being alone, yes, but In Public. Hoping 2021 has this in store for me. And you.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

***UPDATE, it seems I had the "wrong" ECU in mind, though clearly the "right" ECU must have been at least winking at my "wrong" ECU, what the actual hell?: 
The European Currency Unit (French: Unité de compte européenne, German: Europäische Währungseinheit ; , ECU, or XEU) was a unit of account used by European Economic Community composed of a basket of member country currencies. The ECU came in to operation on 13 March 1979, and was assigned the ISO 4217 code. The ECU replaced the European Unit of Account (EUA) at parity in 1979, and it was later replaced by the euro(EUR) at parity on 1 January 1999. // As a unit of account, the ECU was not a circulating currency, and did not replace or override the value of the currency of EEC member countries. However, it was used to price some international financial transactions and capital transfers. (my emphasis)
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Anonymous 6:39 AM  

As a cook who finds black cod, a.k.a. sablefish, in my market all too seldom, 1A was a gimme. So the NW went down easily. The rest was a slog for me.

SourGirl 6:47 AM  

The European Currency Unit (ECU) was the monetary unit used by the European Monetary System (EMS) before being replaced by the euro. The ECU was introduced in 1979 and replaced by the euro in 1999. It was a composite of 12 European Union member countries.

Anonymous 6:48 AM  

The European currency unit, abbreviated as ECU, was the former currency unit of the European Communities, from its adoption on 13 March 1979 (replacing the 'European Unit of Account') to its own replacement by the euro on 1 January 1999, at a ratio of 1:1. The ECU was composed of a basket of currencies of the European Communities Member States and it served as the standard monetary unit of measurement of the market value/cost of goods, services, or assets in the European Communities, thus constituting the cornerstone of the European Monetary System (EMS).

American Liberal Elite 6:49 AM  

ECU, I think, stands for European Currency Unit, and was made obsolete by the EURO.

Anonymous 6:51 AM  

ECU - European Currency Unit?

Lewis 7:00 AM  

More like this, Joe. Make me scrape and dig, inch by inch, to fill in your grid. Make me celebrate squares filled in, then plunge right back into the struggle. Make me laugh at clever clues and curse at bad guesses. Make me get so involved in this creation of yours that time disappears. Then, when that last square fills in, and I realize that this puzzle had very little coasting and extreme earning, I will once again applaud your skill and feel hella grateful for the experience, as I did today. Definitely more like this, Joe!

Dogfish 7:01 AM  

I believe ECU is referring not to the ancient Frech currency, but the European Currency Unit? Rejoice, there's no É to worry about! Bad news: Unmarked abbreviation!

HUSTLE also caught me off guard. GLASS EYE had a lovely clue, but remarkably gettable. LIZA I would rather a clue linking to Minelli - Koshy seems lovely, but I'd have at least added in a show she's done or somethin'. Felt that the HELLA COOL clue was accurate - I'm sorry, but "Do-o-ope" with that explicitly looooong O is dated as anything.

I think today is the first day I've not woken up with a hangover for about a week now. File that under "just as well, really"! I'm gonna go get some MOO JUICE.... well, rather, I'm gonna pour some into a mug with 10 gallons of coffee. Later, folks!

JOHN X 7:01 AM  

Wow. For the second day in a row JOHN X got his ass kicked by the NYTX puzzle.

This is unheard of. I have been doing this puzzle since the 1980's and I am very good at it.

I blame the extraordinary amounts of alcohol I have been consuming as part of my anti-virus regimen (which I take very seriously) for this.

So far in this year I am terrible at the NYTX puzzle.

mooretep 7:10 AM  


"Can't even bother to look this one up."
18 million subscribers, often 10's of millions of "view".
Yet, you often complain that the puzzles are not up to date?

Heal thyself.

Never heard of her either, nonetheless.....

bocamp 7:20 AM  

Thank you, @Joe, for a crunchy Sat. puz; enjoyed it! :)

Medium solve.

Took a while to suss out the "g" in "rollerbag".

"Amie" - Pure Prairie League

Peace 🕊

Guilherme Gama 7:36 AM  

If I'm not mistaken, the name was dropped because "ein ECU" in German could be misheard as "eine Kuh" (a cow).

Anonymous 7:36 AM  

Why is "so to speak" added to "rap sheet" clue? Being cute by pretending to be cute should be outlawed.

Guilherme Gama 7:39 AM  

This bothered me as well. YouTube is just a platform. There is excellent content and there is terrible content there, just as in any medium.

pabloinnh 7:41 AM  

Thank goodness for long answers, E=MC2.CRIMINALREC THIRSTQUENCHER, CRIMINALRECORD (for which I started with "criminal report". Olmecs? Nope, AZTECS, which of course I knew but tripped on anywya. Was thinking of the El Morro in San Juan, PR, and didn't know there was another one in La Habana (hi GILL I), but now I do.

I have to say I still don't know what a ROLLERBAG is. What is it? Also, I have yet to watch anything on youtube but music and previously recorded tv stuff. That may have been a perfectly fine clue for LIZA, but it went in "entirely from crosses", as we say.

Thanks for this one, JD. I like me a Saturday that puts up a fight, and this one sure did that.

Now on to the Saturday Stumper.

***SB STUFF***

Gotto Genius in about ten minutes this AM, and there I shall plant my flag and retire. I hate it when I have fifty words and the Genius ranking and find out there are still twenty words to go. I mean, enough is enough.

Guilherme Gama 7:41 AM  

My absolute favorite here was ASTERISKS. Got a loud expletive out of me (in a good way). I'd guessed US MARINES at first (I don't even know if that makes sense—haven't watched the show) but the intersections didn't work.

Unknown 8:01 AM  

Thought for sure there would be mention of the duping of size.

Hungry Mother 8:03 AM  

I was in OLDHAVANA for the marathon (I did half) in 2011. Lots of hills and fumes from buses were my main memories of the run. Very fast time in this first Saturday outing for the year.

Anonymous 8:12 AM  

YouTube is just a newer platform of entertainment. I am not a follower but my grandson is. Moving pictures, talkies, radio, and TV were probably scorned when new. The world of entertainment is expanding faster than the universe.

Todd 8:22 AM  

I also had lit on fire to start. Black cod was the first word I wrote in. Great Japanese style in miso, great smoked and on a bagel. Unlike Rex I will take sailing terms over many other categories he loves. But I actually sail.

ChuckD 8:23 AM  

Fine - crunchy solve with a few side eyes. Segmented grid gave me the four corners approach - SW was toughest for me. Didn’t know - and now don’t want to know AQUA ZUMBA and SEMELE was a stretch. I have no problem with the spelled out energy equation especially since it gave that easy foothold.

We get @Gill’s HALF SIZES here and I liked OLD HAVANA, GLASS-EYE and SET ON FIRE. Did have Quit IT before SHUT IT - ended up backing in to that corner with HUSTLE. MOO JUICE is bad - I’ll admit I had the juvenile Mom JUICE at first. Didn’t like PHARMA, ROLLER BAG and the YouTuber - who ever that is.

Definitely put up a fight which is fine for Saturday. Enjoyable puzzle.

TTrimble 8:29 AM  

Ah, thanks to the community for the straight do-o-ope on ECU.

Yeah, this puzzle offered up resistance in parts. For me it was mostly in the SW. I had cottoned onto the basic idea of 51A but wrote in cOw JUICE, which I've heard used. From my daughter for example, who finds the whole idea of drinking "juice" from a cow strange. When that eventually became insupportable, I somewhat resentfully put in MOO JUICE, which I've never heard, and which just sounds doubly stupid: "juice" from "the sound a cow makes". If I may SAY SO, I've never heard of SEMELE. Obviously I need to bone up on my Greek myths. I also got stuck on, but then admired the cluing for: GLASS EYE.

Like a dummy, I entered JOE before VIC. And -- what do y'all call it, a malaplop? -- I had put in ERG before the correct JOB, which caused me to try to figure the Halloween candy as something along the lines of "gone soon" -- which it always is in our family. PORT CITY: not immediate, not easy to guess from the clues.

And don't know how you feel about STR and MICD. I'm supposing people render the latter as MIC'D; otherwise, that'd probably be something I'll never get used to.

In retrospect, the puzzle was fair, and I think Saturday-appropriate. With the exception of MOO JUICE, it presents as a puzzle for adults, calling on a lot of broad knowledge, but with a dash of the contemporary. (Okay, I'm not HELLA COOL and hip like Mike, who finds HELLA COOL dated, so what do I know "contemporary".) Anyhow, the time for me was decently under average for a Saturday, and yet an above-averagely good time was had. Thanks, not-Trader Joe!

Hungry Mother 8:32 AM  

Two ROLLERBAGS in the next room to me, and I’m thinking “garbage truck.” I was in DAKAR on a cruise which started in Rio. I never saw so much garbage and poverty in one place. Our excursion bus needed an armed police escort. I was much more nervous than when I was in St. Petersburg (Russia). I sure would like to travel again.

BEE-ER 8:33 AM  

I agree. Getting Genius, and sometimes a few more, is enough. The next day, when I see the answers I missed, I find that I never would have gotten most of them.

Joaquin 8:43 AM  

@Rex is really not old enough to qualify as a curmudgeon, but yet ...

He complains when the puzzles skew old and today's is, apparently, too new (YouTube star is a "bridge too far").

But let's be clear: It is Rex's curmudgeon-ness that keeps us coming back, reading his blog, and commenting on it. So keep it up Rex (and get off my lawn).

Joe Welling 8:45 AM  

The clue for SASH seems off. Maybe they're confusing an awards show with a pageant?

Bubbabythebay 8:55 AM  

@Todd... Another sailor here and totally with you...AYEAYE to nautical terms. I guess we need to switch to baseball or reading comics. Rex must love Spelling Bee. Many nautical terms are banned there.

astroman 9:02 AM  

11D wanted SCORPIONS

Anonymous 9:08 AM  

Not sure I understand the issue with "DQ" and "queen" crossing the other day, or "LLC" and "CO" being i the same grid, yet no problem with the word "size" occuring twice in this grid?

Todd 9:10 AM  

@Bubbabythebay Yes, it drives me crazy that LUFF isn't a valid word on Spelling Bee. How they dismiss it as
a highly technical term is beyond me.

TJS 9:13 AM  

Wow, I pretty much agree with OFLs assessment today. More good than bad in this one, and the difficulty was Saturday worthy. What does "dated" mean if "hellacool" is dated ? I was going for garbage truck too, and roller bags just sounds wrong, but I'm in the @Lewis camp today, and for some reason I feel great that I beat something that kicked @JohnX ass.

"sayso" and "go ahead" do not mean the same thing, in my book..You have the sayso over a decision, and you get the go ahead from someone else.

SouthsideJohnny 9:18 AM  

I thought the clue for TULIP (Fluorescent bulb, maybe) was an excellent example of what a Saturday-level clue should be in terms of difficulty (that particular one may even be characterized as Saturday-level brutal, lol).

As is frequently the case, much of the PPP was completely out of my wheelhouse (KERI, PEGG, SEMELE, the YouTube lady, even OLD HAVANA) - which is a lot to concede when I’m only up to about a 50% success rate with the “normal (i.e. wordplay)” clues.

Last year at this time I was hoping to steadily become more proficient and close out at least one Sunday unassisted prior to the end of the year (I ended up doing so twice). This year I’m optimistic that I will have at least a fighting chance at a successful Friday or Saturday completion as well.

mmorgan 9:21 AM  

Count me among those surprised Rex didn’t scream about SIZES and SIZED.

Teedmn 9:25 AM  

I made this far too hard for myself and I can't blame the extra column. 17A was A_T_RIS__ and I then put in LOwER for 2D. Not helpful. I eventually figured out CLE rather than the NFC or whatever I thought that was asking for, which made ASTERISKS obvious. I've even seen that clue/answer combo before, sheesh.

Not only have I not turned to the GSN channel, I hadn't heard of it before. And I thought I was so clever, getting ALTAR crossing ERR immediately upon starting the puzzle. So much for the NW.

GO BALD was a momentary BRAKE on my solve. Didn't help that I was getting a PeT as a back stroke. Nice clue/answer pair for GO BALD.

And I loved getting E EQUALS MC SQUARED from S_UA. Fun answer.

Joe Deeney, thanks for the workout!

Frayed Knot 9:26 AM  

Isn't it a no-no to have half sizes and bite sized in the same grid?
So far @Anon 9:08 and I seem to be the only ones who noticed.

Z 9:34 AM  

Is it ÉCU or E.C.U.? Sorry, E.C.U. defenders, but the NYTX has standards and if the the answer were an acronym there would have been some indication in the clue. How dare you doubt that Shortz would have let such an egregious violation of standards through! What next? Dupes? Nay! I say. Standards!

Has anyone ever had MOO JUICE SET ON FIRE? Maybe on Mauna KEA?

“YouTube famous” is really more like “YouTube infamous.” If there’s something more than infamy going on the “YouTube” adjective gets dropped and they are just “famous.” Like all generalizations this is overly broad, but serves for most. It’s an odd cluing choice for the NYTX since LIZA Koshy has a fair level of success beyond her YouTube channel. Is this just an attempt to appear hipper?

Agard did the end of year New Yorker sports puzzle with a laugh out loud funny clue to answer dupe. I read that he doesn’t care about dupes, which actually sort of diminished the humor (because violating the rule made the dupe funnier). Today’s dupe is the reason the “unwritten rule” exists. There’s no reason to have the SIZE dupe so it just peals with inelegance. Agard’s dupe made me laugh. Today’s dupe made my eyebrow arch so much it hurts.

E EQUALS MC SQUARED made me miss @Casco Kid.

kitshef 9:35 AM  

Mostly easy, but SE was tough. Hard clue for TULIP. Wanted xhosa and bantu before SWAZI. For some reason, I thought the people were SWAZI but the language was Swati. Research reveals that it’s not that simple. XHOSA would have completed the pangram, but I’m glad the puzzle was not tortured to get there. As it is, this is a pretty sweet offering.

E=MC squared relates energy to mass. That's how the sun produces energy; converting mass to energy. Every second, the sun gets lighter by more than 4 million tons doing this.

Z 9:42 AM  

@Early Readers - Rex has updated the blog regarding E.C.U. - Still crickets regarding SIZE.

Mickey Bell 9:44 AM  

If not for the southeast I’d have had a Saturday record. BITESIZED got me because I was wrong on TRADER ___. I had JOE. Spent eons messing around and nothing made sense. Other than that, great fun.

Also agree on YouTube stars (I’m so out — like folding a bad hand before betting starts — on such clues).

pabloinnh 9:51 AM  

So I finally looked up ROLLERBAG and it turns out that I have owned and been using same for years now, and now they have a name. "Hey Judy, seen my ROLLERBAG anywhere?", and she won't know what I'm talking about either. I'll have to let her in on this arcane (to us) terminology.

Flinque 9:51 AM  

Was stuck on and finally finished with the Shakespeare quote. One reason I was stuck was that I refused to believe that Shakespeare would be verbose: little wee....

Unknown 9:53 AM  

rex constantly moans that puzzles aren't fresh and up to date, yet he is upset when a youtube star appears & he can't be bothered to look her up. rex, you can't have it both ways.

the G in ROLLERBAGS was my bete noir, and the SW corner led to a rare DNF. I had HELLAGOOD; never heard of HELLACOOL, though I come to learn that both are songs. Sigh, I'm getting old.

Flinque 9:53 AM  

Was stuck on and ended up at the Shakespeare quote. One of the reasons I was stuck is that I could not believe that Shakespeare would be verbose: little wee....

RooMonster 9:53 AM  

Hey All !
MOO JUICE, Har. Have a comic thingie saved on my phone that says, "Whoever discovered milk was doing some weird shit to the cow". :-) Had cOwJUICE first myself.

Got a good chuckle out of Rex's "You ever have an answer that just feels *good* and then it ends up not only being wrong, but never having made sense in the first place." Yes! All. The. Time. Tough to get away from those.

Missing an X for the pangram, and actually close to a double-pangram, albeit no X's for the single, but only missing one J, one V, one W, and the aforementioned X's. Try a little harder next time Joe! :-)

So, YesterPuz was technically correct, I just had letters for the numbers 0 & 1, and today I got my one-letter DNF. Bang-up start to the Year! I had the an F at HELLAfOOL/EfU. Of course being an F, didn't want to let it go, even if I never heard of EfU. But what do I know of pre-Euro monetary units? And what's really funny, is with that HELLAfOOL, you get the opposite meaning of the intended meaning, but it still makes sense for the clue! Odd, weird, and neat all at the same time. I'd like to nominate for EFU, "Electronic Funds Update". :-)

Took the ole brain forever to grok ROLLERBAG. Nice. And I'm always picking people up at the airport and waiting on luggage! I'll tell you the best invention of all time, is the retractable handle on said ROLLERBAGs. Now that was a genius thing. Now when you see people with old bags they have to carry, you look at them like they're crazy! You point and say, "Wow, what is that?" Like kids with rotary phones.

Had to break down in the SE and Goog the Morro Castle thing. Dang. Saw it was on HAVANA bay, so threw HAVANA in the puz, put still took a bit for OLD to show it's head. Toughest part of puz for me. Ambiguous cluing on the Halloween candy, and wanting jULeP for TULIP not helping. Initially wanted afRicaner or aomesuch for PORTCITY. Plus the Joe for Trader clue, but I believe it Joe's, no? Sorted it all out after the Goog, and still the DNF. Drat. In my defense, the year did start Friday-Saturday. Yeah, that's it.

Three F's

kitshef 9:57 AM  

Normally, a reasonable definition of "dated" is "I have actually heard of it". I've heard HELLACOOL, so yep, that is probably dated. I have never in my life heard nor seen "do-o-ope" before today's puzzle, so you may continue to use that and be hep.

@pabloinnh 7:41 +1 on thinking Puerto Rico for El Morro.

Frantic Sloth 10:00 AM  

I tell ya, I came so close to a DNF in the SW, had to fight with everything I had to not "cheat", whatever that means. Luckily, a good night's sleep opened my EYEs, as it were.

This was a strange experience for me. Misdirects and question marks galore! And a few EYE-JOBs (side, roll, arched brow) along the way did not smooth the way either. But for whatever reason, most of the misdirects didn't derail me. In fact, you might even say wavelength happened. If you talk stupid like that....and me.

Loved the grid spanner right across the middle and the -1 downs, because size does matter. Or so I'm told.

Also got a kick out of MOOJUICE, SETONFIRE, HALFSIZES (and clue), OLDHAVANA (Hi, @GILL!), GOBALD (and clue), GLASSEYE (and clue), HELLACOOL, AQUAZUMBA, and more.
Oddly, some of those are where I got stuck, but for idiotic reasons, so it wouldn't be fair to count that against them.

Annoying how one little incorrect letter in just the right place can bring one's progress to a screeching halt, AINT it?
For me it was AMIs instead of AMIE (here's where the sleep helped) and even having GLAS_EYs couldn't oust the cobwebs. "Seriously??" says morning I.


So SIZES and SIZED in the same grid? Ugly. Especially considering how spiffy the rest of the grid was. C'mon!

SEMELE? I SEMELE a rat with that behemoth of obscurity.

And WOE is a ROLLERBAG?? (Don't worry - I'll look it up because nobody ever answers a question here.)

MICD is a sports-shunner's nightmare, if you ask me. I happened to know it, but I'll bet it made some cranky.

Be honest, how many of you thought Paul for 31D, despite thinking "why would he be in a 'Mission Impossible' film?"
You see "Simon", you see 4 letters, you see first letter "P"... well?
I knew it was wrong, but I just could not unsee it for the life of me, until I got one of the Gs and well...mine is on a much-needed vacation so I had to slap Mrs. Sloth's forehead.

Overall, this was a chewnchy rollick in duh-duh land. I truly enjoyed almost every minute of it.

I bid you good day.


Anonymous 10:05 AM  

Doesn’t anyone read before they spout out their comments?

jae 10:07 AM  

Easy-medium. Mostly solid with a bit of sparkle. Liked it.

SEMELE and MICD were WOEs and HasTen (@Rex me too) before HUSTLE moved this from easy to easy-medium.

Anonymous 10:09 AM  

That’s because the NYTimes puzzle has changed to a 16x15 grid. Didn’t you get the memo?

Anonymous 10:12 AM  

Some may not be as observant as you.
It is a serious breech of puzzle rules.

Carola 10:14 AM  

Just-right challenging with many Saturday-worthy clues like in the olden days (as I remember them), where "Is it noun or a verb" clues like today's "Fits in between" used to give me fits. My way in was SASH x ARS x HaSTen x THIRST QUENCHER = lots to work with. Last in: correcting HaSTen to HUSTLE and its crosses. I liked MOO JUICE joined to the WEE ROMPER.

Birchbark 10:14 AM  

In the Roman sense, E = 1.21 million.

No time to chop wood this morning. I must load up the ROLLERBAG and HUSTLE off to AQUAZUMBA class. I'm with the TADS in the shallow end -- we all start somewhere.

JC66 10:20 AM  

I was more put off by I MEAN IT., SHUT IT and MOST OF IT than by the SIZE dupe.

Ei Con 10:31 AM  

I had read somewhere that “the lions share” actually means ALL OF IT as lions don’t actually share their food.

Azzurro 10:31 AM  

I came here to read Rex’s takedown of the SIZED/SIZES repeat, which seems far worse then the DQ/QUEEN cross he flagged a few days ago or the LLC thing. I was looking forward to him excoriating the constructor for this, which I found much more grating than the others. I am disappointed.

I also had LUFFUP for LAIDTO. Google says that “lay to” is a nautical expression, but I can’t recall ever hearing it in years of sailing. Maybe it’s regional, but I would say luff up in that context.

ghkozen 10:33 AM  

I found the SE to be extremely difficult, all because of the SIZE dupe. I already had the NE, and while my solver brain wanted BITESIZED, my rules brain said it just had to be something else. I know I’ve said it here before, but its time for Shortz to be ignominiously canned.

Anonymous 10:36 AM  

@ Anonymous 10:05, There is a time lag between typing a comment and its appearance so sometimes it seems like people haven't read previous postings.

Sixthstone 10:36 AM  

Solid challenge today with a lot of zing. This played hard for me, especially in the SE. Not familiar with AQUAZUMBA (though it sounded familiar somehow), ECU, SEMELE, or HELLACOOL. Struggled with GOBALD based on the clue, so this section took some work.

Re: YouTube stars (aka YouTubers)--I have 3 kids who watch a lot of these folks. Believe me, Rex (and any other thinking adults), you do NOT need to "expand your universe" to include these kids. Nothing against YouTube--I watch all kinds of things there, but it's a low bar to become a "star" there. Mostly it's like hanging out at the popular table in a high school cafeteria and listening to pretty, rich kids talk about their weekends. Count me out. Try for yourself:

jberg 10:38 AM  

Nah, I think @Rex has a point. Personally I would ban television references, as well -- I seldom watch that stuff, and certainly have never heard of GSN -- the Goofy Shopping Network?

But YouTube does have its uses. For those unfamiliar with SEMELE, here's Cecilia Bartoli starring in Handel's Oratorio about her. He wrote it as an oratorio, but today it's often performed as an opera, i.e. with acting as well as music. I only knew that there was such a work, nothing about her, but that was enough with a few crosses.

Yeah, that "so to speak" in the 6D clue was a tad unfair--like everone else, I went looking for something music-related. "More formally" would have been better.

As I recall, the French pushed for the new European coin to be called the ECU, but everyone else resisted because they didn't want a name already associated with a particular country, hence the euro.

Back before YouTube, we used to say "mike" and "miked up." I can see that "miced up" wouldn't work, so I guess there's an implied apostrophe there. It still fooled me, though.

@Z, I haven't done that Agard puzzle yet, so I'm hoping you didn't give me too much of a hint!

TTrimble 10:44 AM  

Yes! Is that not mind-boggling? I am lost in wonderment, how the Earth at an average distance of 93 million miles from the sun, and hence receiving maybe about two one-billionths of the energy the sun sends in all directions (doing that in my head, not bothering to be careful), is still powered to produce all life, warm the planet and all its waters hundreds of degrees Celsius, produce all manner of atmospheric events, etc., etc. (And that's not correcting to take into account the percentage of radiation that is reflected off the Earth to space.) An absolutely stupendous amount of power.


RPCV Cameroon 10:45 AM  

One of Nobu’s most famous recipes is black cod with miso.

When available we make this and our daughters (generally not the most adventurous eaters) love it.

Frantic Sloth 10:47 AM  

Okay. I'll shine a spotlight on my ignorance and bite: BTWO?

Rex on BLACKCOD made me LOL. It's funny because it's true!
And I have to confess. For the briefest of moments, I thought "what fish has fur?". I said briefest!! SHUT IT.

Agree on his take regarding "YouTube star" in a GOML* kinda way. Never heard of, don't care about, get outta my puzzle, go away.
*Get Off My Lawn (Hi, @Joaquin!)

@ChuckD 823am "We get @Gill’s HALF SIZES here" 🤣

@TTrimble 829am Lately it seems as if one of us is following the other with our similarities and all. But, dude. It's the rhyming factor of MOOJUICE that makes it work. And being doubly stupid is part of its charm, dontcha know.
Love "malaplop", but what you described is a "malapop", both of which make autocorrect's head explode.

@Z 934am Good stuff, as usual. Your last line made me think of a new McDonald's offering: the McSquared: 3 of them daily is all you need.

I already mentioned the SIZE thing, but add my voice to those who wonder where Rex was on this. I mean, if even I see it...

@Roo 953am Thanks for saving me the effort of looking it up, which (surprise!) I am loath to do. So...ROLLERBAG. Duh. Where is Mrs. Sloth hiding? I need a forehead.

@JC66 1020am Good EYE! You have a point. Such a shame. This puzzle as a whole deserved better.

Whatsername 10:55 AM  

Saturday tough and then some. I had to work hard at MOST OF IT but there were some great clues to be appreciated. Almost hurt myself slapping my head (hi @Frantic) at the Mash clue for ASTERISKS. Also loved ROLLERBAG, GLASS EYE and GO BALD. Just knew it was going to be a pangram, but that X never marked the spot.

Quite a coincidence to see HALF SIZES after yesterday’s discussion on ladies clothing, and I’ll bet @GILL has shopped for those in OLD HAVANA at some point in time. Maybe bought a ROMPER or something with a SASH and looked HELLA COOL in it natch.

All the math whizzes here were probably delighted with the physics equation front and center. Even a dunce like me could see the MCSQU and know it couldn’t be anything else.

Newboy 10:58 AM  

“Wow, that was pretty amazing “ said my puzzle buddy. I too really liked this one though it went more smoothly for me except for the people both ancient and modern I didn’t know. Neither she nor I had heard of Ms. Koshy though Time Magazine had LIZA among the best 25 internet folk a couple years ago....clearly obsolete in the digital 2021 age, so hope Elizabeth (Lizza) Koshkey has found new employment—or at least her real identity?

I’m becoming a fan of Joe’s grids that seem to grow out of long answers spanning the puzzle and often wonderful cluing and assorted xword sleight of mind (see 20 Feb of last year’s rebus?). Some constructor minds work as weirdly as does mine, and their zaniness is its own reward. Well, I said it and I MEANT IT at least MOST OF IT and if you’ve a problem with it as a dupe, then take it up with the IT department—I’ve heard they’re HELLACOOL, whatever that means.

Unknown 11:01 AM  

Fun puzzle. But I will always hate "Mauna ___".

Anonymous 11:05 AM  

Rex - "YouTube star" is your "Get off my lawn"!!!!!

Nancy 11:09 AM  


There's also some awful stuff: PEGG; AQUAZUMBA; SEMELE; TONET; and especially HELLACOOL (huh???) with its weird slangy clue.

I didn't solve it, since I cheated on PEGG, SEMELE and the ZUMBA of AQUAZUMBA. (I thought it was AQUAZOOMBA, which didn't fit.).

Yes, there was some fiendish and devious cluing that I applaud. But there were also a lot of small tidbits of information that I didn't know. I like puzzles that made me feel smart after I wrestle with them. This one made me feel like a "Do-o-ope" -- assuming that's what dope means here. I have no idea, actually, what dope means when it's written that way, since I have no idea what HELLACOOL means either. I imagine someone here will tell me?

Bottom line: I can't really praise a puzzle that...
1) makes me suffer this much
2) makes me feel this dumb
3) drives me to cheat.

Steve M 11:12 AM  

Hella workout- nuff said

Eldreth 11:14 AM  

agree on Hustle - doesn’t really mean speed up or go faster or increase velocity - it just means go fast - Hasten is a much more accurate answer

JD 11:34 AM  

In the '60s, you could wake up to a bowl of vitamin-fortified, sugar-coated cereal, and a glass of Moo Juice, which was made by stirring a packet of chocolate or strawberry flavored sugar into your milk ... brought to you by Pillsbury, part of this complete breakfast. The government knew the baby boom would make Social Security unsustainable and collaborated with industry to kill us off early.

You could then go to school and tell the joke, "What has wheels and flies?" A garbage truck (mentioned here above) and I couldn't get past that for a long time.

Sticking points. Rap sheet is a criminal record, no question about it. Tuns? No. There are no Tulip Bulbs that will yield a fluorescent colored tulip. Stubbornly resisted throwing down those two E's. Hustle should've been Side Job. Wanted AquaRobics before Zumba (sneered at my mother's Aquarobics class back in the day ... who's laughing now, I'd probably drown in the shallow end).

But Most of It was good. I wasn't exactly Clemson but I was definitely Notre Dame. Can't wait til 1/11.

GILL I. 11:36 AM  

SEMELE? Who the hell names their daughter that? "Hey mortal mother... it stinks in here...let's call out daughter SEMELE."
And so it went. Talk about wanting to set the tiki bar ON FIRE. I was so OFF I wanted to HUSTLE up some of that PHARMA SWAZI. I mean egads and all that. Hey... did you hear about HALF SIZES and BITE SIZED going into the bar? They ordered MOO JUICE as their THIRST QUENCHER and their GLASS EYES made them go BALD. I already need a drink and it's only 8:20 in the morn.
If I can't tip-toe through a TULIP then don't call me fluorescent. STR CLE DEF GSN and ISR need to be LAID TO rest....and while you're at it, take TUNS with you and tell him the wine vat needs cleaning. I got that off my chest. Now we will get to OLD HAVANA. Yeah, one end of it overlooks Morro Castle but so does the Malecon. My dad's company was in Old Havana and I spent lots of time with him and his loyal employees in that wonderful place (no more).. That was before butcher CHE came in and took over. Just so you know (and I can be a broken record about this), the La Cabana on Morro Castle was (what some of you call a hero) Che's favorite fortress to keep and torture and kill, oh...about 400, people he didn't like. You know...gays, Christians, Batista cronies, a few American protesters and anyone he didn't particularly like. He showed no mercy and yet he's been "heroized" thanks to dumb asses. Wear your sweat band to make you feel stronger...that should do it.
Phew.....boy do I feel better now. I think there is some egg nog left over in the fridge........

Crimson Devil 11:42 AM  

Unsure of definition of crunchy, but to channel Potter Stewart, J., I think this qualifies.
Liked wheeled fliers, physics longhand, and can’t part.
Band, dooope, tulip: not so much.

Anonymous 11:45 AM  

No mention of three “it”s in the puzzle!

Tom R 11:45 AM  

I had two brakes in solving (plus a lot of hesitations). One was the single square G on roller bag. I stuck in G eventually because I couldn't think of anything else that fit and GSN was not familiar at all.

The other was a long crunch - the whole SW corner.I had criminal record, aztec, erg and 14 blank letters to go with my blank mind. I eventually guessed aquazumba which let me see gobald (in retrospect, a great clue). But the two things that really bugged me were hellacool and the clue do-o-ope. Never in my life heard either. Does that date me? If so I don't care and I object to this clue/answer.

Like Rex I don't watch shows on You Tube so Liza was just a set of crosses making a name. What's wrong with Minnelli? Too old, I guess.

mathgent 12:00 PM  

@pabloinnh (9:51). I had ROLLERBA? and couldn't get it. I suppose because all luggage is on rollers now.

I liked Lewis's line about being so engrossed that time disappeared.

I thought of Trader Vic's as a San Francisco restaurant from the 50's and was surprised that it was well-known enough to be in the puzzle. Looking it up, I learned that they had restaurants all around the world at one time. Now, they still have two restaurants in the US, one in Atlanta and one in Emeryville, here in the Bay Area. Vic Bergeron opened Trader Vic's in an alley in downtown San Francisco in 1951 and it became the hottest restaurant in town. Herb Caen, our legendary columnist, loved it and plugged it all the time. Vic claimed to have invented the mai tai.

Joe Deeney is pleased that Will didn't edit out his clue for GLASSEYE. I wish that he had.

I've spent time in a number of Polynesian bars, including Trader Vic's, but I've never seen a drink set on fire.

The cluing was too cute for me. No thumbs up here.

PHV 12:01 PM  

"Laid to" strikes me as a usage created out of ignorance using the usual tools of grammar to a bad result. The verb is "to lie", not "to lay". To the extent it makes any sense at all, "He laid to outside the harbor entrance" would be interpreted as "He spent time lying to", not that he initiated lying to.

It just sounds wrong to this sailor's ear.

ow a paper cut 12:05 PM  

Agree with Rex on YouTube “star”

ChuckD 12:21 PM  

@mathgent - they were pretty cool places. I liked the one in the Beverly Hills Hilton - that’s where Zevon saw a werewolf drinking a pina colada. The one at the Plaza was odd because it was below grade and dark - think Mad Men. Our moron in chief closed it when he bought the place in the late 80s.

CDilly52 12:34 PM  

Contrary to my usual pattern, I decided to post without reading anything this morning simply because I had so much fun solving this big, fat, delightfully clued puzzle that I just couldn’t wait.

Truly, I have not enjoyed a solve this much for what feels like a very long time. Starting with the band fir ceremonies (SASH) that was clever but easy, and then ramped up immediately with the item that has heels and flies. That one made me chuckle. Still fairly easy and it, along with the M*A*S* H* characters )another decent chortle) made the NE a snap, albeit a very enjoyable one.

Liked the reference from humanity in 23A (as in “to ERR (S) is human”). followed by two very interesting crossword factoids for future use - the flash drive’s h “home” and reference to ORION’S sword. And we aren’t even 1/4 finished yet!

OK, so y’all solved this just as Idid, so I won’t list all my remaining faves but have to give particular kudos to Mr. Deeney for the “ artificial object in orbit” - pretty certain I chuckled out loud at that one.

For my taste, Joe Deeney now goes into the favorite constructor category, and I shall look forward to more from him. This was fun every single step of the way.

And now I shall go find out if I am in the majority or minority today. Cheers everyone! My day was off to a very good start with this solve earlier!

CDilly52 12:36 PM  

Well said @Lewis, as always!!

A 12:39 PM  

Happy Nine Maids-a-milking MOOJUICE Day!

Wow, fun Saturday! Last letter in was the G to correct ROLLERBAt, which I rationalized could be a kind of drone. I thought they were called wheeled bags. I also remember when you never saw them. When I went with a student band for a three week tour of Europe, no-one had one. My mom was an expert traveler and she taught me how to pack. I had the smallest suitcase of the bunch and the most outfits.

I found Rex particularly amusing and informative today, with the slake near-debacle and the too funny "I'm just our. Can't. Bridge too far...I am an incurious bastard." He even qualified his nits: "but that, I realize, is probably a highly idiosyncratic and personal response." Didn't agree about a few things. I am not a sailor but I love reading about it and somehow got LAIDTO from the L.

The spelled-out EEQUALESMCSQUARED does look odd but it's a fun comeback to yesterday's 20-21. I'm sure it was a comfort to those who were upset by the use of numerals. Hopefully it will also lead to more math elegance today.

Very enjoyable puzzle full of a variety of things I didn't know and had to work hard for. Bravo (not Trader) Joe


PS. Thanks @Birchbark for the recommendation for Britten's Turn of the Screw - I had the privilege of seeing my niece as the Governess in a performance at Chatauqua a few years ago. There's a website,, devoted to the soprano who was a favorite of Britten and played the Governess. Very interesting, and there's some rare footage of several of her performances.

albatross shell 12:42 PM  

Crunchy enough to break half my teeth. A TUN of no idea. 252 gallons worth apparently. ISR GSN ECU TENET BLACKCOD ROMPER (thought it was a room, not clothing) LIZA. A ton of ohthatsagreatone. GLASSEYE PAT GOBALD ASTERISKS TULIP AINT TOON UNLESS.

And ROLLERBAG. @frantic: the ever-obliging @ROO has pre-answered you on what one is. It does have wheels and flies on planes. It has zippers that may resemble flies on pants. And if your dirty laundry is packed for the return trip it may attract flies.

When it comes to suitcases I do have a ROLLERBAG to use when longer walks are expected. Otherwise I prefer the classic Samsonite. Or the classic 40's and 50's vertically lined ochre and tan colored look. I have one my grandmother used to travel the world with those hotel stickers all over it. I use that for weekenders at friends houses. Twice I have been in houses that have similar models used as antique-y room decorations.

I had JOB and ERG switched for a while.

And yes burning drinks are a thrill, but why order alcohol and burn off the buzz. Give me a second glass with lighter fluid. Or am I missing something. Well of course I am.
And didn't anyone else have SHUTup? Too dated?

And if there were no traditional rule about word repetition would the double SIZE-usage cause any upset? That is, is it in any way detrimental to the puzzle? Doesn't that suggest something about the rule? Compared to weaker fill?

Rex is a curmudgeon or plays one or both. I like it when he admits his prejudices and admits its for on him and not to be applied as criticism of the puzzle. It's when he does not admit his judgements are not universally justified that they bother me.

@frantic: re: ARESO yesterday: I remembered your lawyerly and it stinks. Forgot you actually were hoping for a justification. I shoulda known better.

CDilly52 12:42 PM  

@pabloinnh 7:41: ROLLERBAG refers to the luggage with wheels that accompany you on flights. That one took me a hot minute. Got the ROLLER and the B but had no earthly what meteors airs the reruns of the game show-even after I had _SN. Used the W-A-G protocol that my husband explained to me was part of the USAF “Naviguesser’s Handbook” . . . the Wild-Assed Guess.

CDilly52 12:48 PM  

@Anon 9:08 (and others). Hand up for why no flag on the doubling of size??? Oh well, even after 60 years of daily solves (and attempts) I’m barely smart enough to solve’em so I will refrain from getting truly bunched up over any perceived “violation.”

Junief 12:51 PM  

There is a delay while the comments are “approved” before they are published. Several people can come up with the same helpful response more or less simultaneously, and then they will all appear in a row. So you might pause and think before submitting your not-very-astute snark.

CDilly52 12:55 PM  

@Z 9:34: having been in the vicinity of a (substantial) number of tiki bars in my time, I have seen many cocktails of vivid color, and odd mixture decorated wildly and set on fire, and I have no doubt that a MOO JUICE and whatever cocktail could be included among the many!

Anonymous 12:56 PM  

so much that wasn't just misdirection:
HUSTLE is velocity, not acceleration
MOO JUICE is so lower brain stem old, cow JUICE just because it was foreign and 'new'
SHUT up rather than SHUT IT
LAID by rather than LAID TO
ROMPER was last current when I had them, and you don't want to know when that was, well when ROMPER Room was on the teeVee
ROLLER BAG!? never, ever heard one called that
Einstein spelled out? meh.

for those who've ever wondered why it's The Speed of Light Squared in the equation, this is a good explanation:

Masked and Anonymous 1:05 PM  

yep. The "IT" puz of 2021, so far. Actually, U could say the ITtiest. Which another commenter or two has already beat m&e to mentionin. Ditto with several other things M&A was gonna cover.

* 16-wide puzgrid standard, for 2021. "Make NYTPuz Greater Again" program. SunPuzs will now be 16x40, btw ["Puzgrid continued on page 31", e.g.]

* ROLLERBAG? Luggage don't exactly fly … it more comes along for the ride, occasionally. Sounds like a great title for a sci-fi schlock flick about roller rinks and octogenarians, or somesuch. James Caan re-prises his role … etc. etc.
But, but -- Maybe a ROLLERBAG could attract flies, eventually. If U forgot and left yer old baloney sandwich leftovers in the suitcase. Happened one time, for a friend.

* Felt real real do-o-pe-y, when the solvequest BRAKEd extra-hard at the E?U/HELLA?OOL crossin of mystery. Lost all my previously cashiered precious nanoseconds. staff weeject pick = ECU; no contest.

* Didn't know this Koshy LIZA person. YouTube ain't worked on my old trusty iPad for a coupla years now, tho.

* Let's SHUT IT off here, list-wise. MOST OF IT. I MEANT IT. [Extra credits: bITesized portcITy of the SE.]

Luved the relativistic puzgrid-spanner, at 36-A. My first college class was a Physics 101 course, held in a lecture hall with about 200 students. The first lecture series presented by the prof was on Einstein's relativity. Dude was sellin a his brand-new book on the subject, which all enrollees were required to buy & to study from. Lectures did not move at the speed of light, unfortunately.

Thanx for the extra-large themeless fun, Mr. Deeney. Enjoyed yer ASTERISKS clue a heckacool lot.

Masked & Anonym8Us

Kath320 1:10 PM  

Small quibble, but isn't there a law against using the same word twice in a crossword? 9D and 29A - slowed me down because I thought the last two letters in one of them could not be "IT"

old timer 1:20 PM  

I had no trouble with LAID TO, being an old fan of Patrick O'Brian's sea stories. I had a lot of other troubles, though. I would have gotten ROLLERBAG if I had run the alphabet, but GSN is unknown to me. And I did DNF at GLASSEYE (clever, though!) because I have never until today seen SEMELE as a name for Persephone.

CRIMINALRECORD I got, but it seemed lame, somehow, for rap sheet. Perhaps because your rap sheet shows crimes you were detained for, even if you were not arrested for the crime, and even if the DA did not file charges.

BITE SIZED is I think my favorite answer of the day. The puzzle had many great clues and misdirects. How many of you wanted the ubiquitous "onesie" before ROMPER?

Joaquin 1:23 PM  

@M&A (1:05 PM) - Your Physics 101 story reminded me of my freshman physics course (called 1A), also held in a huge lecture hall, and taught by Edward Teller ("The father of the H-Bomb"). My father encouraged me to take this class because, "That's why you go to a great university - to learn from the best." Turns out, I learned nothing new and got the easiest (not to mention one of my very few) "A" of my college career.

Z 1:25 PM  

@10:36 - There’s also the thing where the web version looks different than the mobile version, so mobile users don’t see a “reply” and think the question is unanswered.

@jberg - Apologies. Although it’s not a particularly tough puzzle anyway other than being PPP-centered, so I only spoiled 3 nanoseconds tops.

@TJS - Let me propose the Urban Dictionary Test. If the latest UD entry for a slang term is over 10 years old the term might be dated. Of course, at some point UD will become dated...

@kitshef & @TTrimble - This always boggles my mind.

@JD - Visit Holland, MI in May and get back to me.

Hand up for being among the legion who have never heard the thing called a ROLLER BAG. Got it completely from crosses and still had to suss out the clue.

Lawyering HUSTLE: Consider a coach unhappy with how a team is going through practice and yelling at them to “HUSTLE.” HaSTen is better, but it is Saturday.

johnk 1:39 PM  

The East was easy for me, but too many Boston suburbs in the West. ?SN --> ROLLERBA? Never heard of GSN. I don't do cable TV.
Then the SW! Complete unknowns for me: PEGG, SEMELE, HELLACOOL and AQUAZUMBA. And my COW vs MOO ("Oops! Can't be SAYSO") and SOU vs ECU ("Well, ERG is out") didn't help any.

Barbara S. 1:41 PM  

I've been skeptical, but maybe 2021 really is going to be a better year. I've aced its first two puzzles -- a Friday and a Saturday, not pushovers, but both with crunch. So far, 2021 and I are friends.

I thought the most interesting answer was THREAD (Work one's way through, as a maze). I looked up the origin and found Ariadne.

For those SEMELE-haters, here's Gustave Moreau's take on her death by, hmm, what shall we call it? Godly incursion? Let's just say that no mortal can look upon a god in all his or her divine majestical glory and live, but if you do happen to see one, what a way to go.

I have a GLASS EYE story, which is really quite benign, but I've decided against telling it out of respect for everyone's yuck thresholds. At the time I found it fascinating and not yucky at all, but maybe that's me. And I was 12.

Doesn't OOLALA (26D) normally have an "H" following the double O? Looks unclothed without it and not at all chic.

I liked the linkage of DAKAR, OLD HAVANA and PORT CITY. Evocative.

**SB Alert**
The letters today can be used to spell the name of my grade 8 teacher, Mrs. McCOOEYE. Man, she could parse a sentence like nobody’s business.

Pete 1:42 PM  

I don't know what constitutes being a YouTube Star, but it it's having at least one million subscribers, then there are over twenty two thousand of them. I probably know about some of them, but none for their YouTube stardom alone. I am aware that people are constantly scouring YouTube looking for talent to feed the gaping maw of more mainstream entertainment outlets, so I'll just say if you're YouTube famous but not Netflix famous, you're not famous. Says I, whom approximately 100 people have even formally met. And get the hell off my lawn!

Hated EEQUALSMCSQUARED, and had no idea what a ROLLERBAG was, and around there, Family Feud is on WPIX not some garbage cable channel mixed in with E! and HallMark Movies 3.

Frantic Sloth 2:06 PM  

@M&A 105pm Your schtick on ROLLERBAG? Priceless!

@Barbara S 141pm I can't be the only one left hanging by your GLASSEYE breadcrumb. So, spill!
I should imagine flashing lights and red flags atop the post would suffice as a warning, no? Then again, perhaps others are not stuck at age a friend of mine.

TTrimble 2:35 PM  

@Frantic Sloth
I sort of feel you left us hanging yesterday with your coy "there's a story" re: POLE DANCING. So maybe both you and Barbara S. could satisfy our curiosity, you first? I'll supply the popcorn.

(Thanks by the way: I knew there was something fishy about "malaplop", although I kind of like it anyway, and maybe I'll adopt it as a personal signature. (-: )

JD 2:37 PM  

Well ya know what @Z, I just might take you up on that. Your state of residence was on my mind when I saw, "Presqu’île" and thought waaiiit a minute. Presque Isle? Looked it up, sure 'nuf named by fur traders (French I would think). I'll add the tulip festival to my bucket list.

@Gill, I'm standing by your soapbox cheering you on. Reality is a nice check on political fantasy.

@Nancy, this sound like a bad marriage:

1) makes me suffer this much
2) makes me feel this dumb
3) drives me to cheat.

Georgia 2:49 PM  

Please explain "glass eye" as an "artificial object in orbit" ...?

Anonymous 2:57 PM  

Can someone please explain what a MALAPOP is? Is it a hybrid of malaprop and something else or what?
Thanks in advance!

Anonymous 2:59 PM  

HALF-SIZED and BITE-SIZED in the same grid?? C'mon Rex, stop enjoying these puzzles so much.

GILL I. 3:01 PM I want to stand on top of a soap box and ask: a). @Frantic what the hell were you doing on the pole?.....b). @Baarbara S. If you don't tell us your GLASS EYE story, I'm going to start drinking and I promise it won't be MOOD JUICE.
Did any one look at I MEAN TIT? No? Just me?

Masked and Anonymous 3:03 PM  

@Joaquin (12:23) - yep. I'm pretty sure I did real good in that there "Relativity 101" class, despite my major concerns about not knowin what-the-hellacool I was doin. Those relativity formulaes got pretty intimidatin, at times. Maybe the other 199 folks all really h-bombed out, or somethin?

Anyhoo … I was so concerned, I gave the TA/lab-teacher in that class a self-addressed postcard, to let m&e know how I'd done on the final exam. His comment on the card: "Topped the curve". Made m&e kinda wanna major in Relativity, but that was the only course that had any of that "warp speed" stuff in it. So I went with math & computer sciences. To my knowledge, that was the end of my curve-toppin days...

Everything = Mornin x Cinnamonrolls**2.


Pete 3:05 PM  

@Gill I - In case you're out of eggnog, try my family's secret recipe (i.e the Joy of Cooking recipe)

YIELD12 cups
12 egg yolks
1 pound confectioner's sugar
4-6 cups dark rum ( any combination of rum / whiskeys will be good, 6+ cups preferred)
8 cups heavy cream
8 to 12 egg whites
fresh grated nutmeg

My note: I throw the egg whites away. I don't prefer the foam on top,but that's just me. Go for it if you like. Beat egg yolks until light in color. Gradually beat in the confectioner's sugar. Add 2 cups rum very slowly, beating constantly. Let mixture stand covered for 1 hour to dispel the "eggy" taste. Add remaining rum and whipping cream, beating constantly. Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry. Fold egg whites lightly into the other ingredients. Serve sprinkled with fresh nutmeg and cinnamon to taste.

Anonymous 3:12 PM  


the medical folks don't call it 'eye socket', they call it 'orbit'. my first wife's father was a surgeon, so I got to hear all about such things.

Anonymous 3:15 PM  

I was gonna say "Hey Rex, maybe welcome the YouTubers into your life just a little. This was a nice way to clue this name as a WoC as opposed to the more typical Minnelli," but then I looked up one of her videos and... yeah, I understand the refusal.

TTrimble 3:20 PM  

From Wikipedia: "In anatomy, the orbit is the cavity or socket of the skull in which the eye and its appendages are situated."

My understanding is that a malapop is a case where you insert something which actually is one of the puzzle answers, but just in the wrong place! Like putting in ERG where today's JOB is.

JC66 3:21 PM  


The orbit is the same as the eye socket and a GLASS EYE is an artificial object.

@Anon 2:57

Malapop is a term coined by long-time commenter ACME that refers to entering a wrong answer for a clue that later turns out to be the correct answer for another clue.

@Barbara S

I keep meaning ton tell you I missed you. Welcome back.

Frantic Sloth 3:24 PM  

@TTrimble 235pm Yeah, I was afraid my comment yesterday as written might be misinterpreted. The wording was not clear, but all I meant was that the combination of the words "QUEEREYE. UNPERSON, POLEDANCED" was a story waiting to happen. Still, I suppose it isn't difficult to imagine that those very same words might apply to a past experience of my own. I know I'd suspect it.

And I almost prefer "malaplop" (just plop it in there!), but then the whole word "popping up" elsewhere thing would be lost.

Oh, geez! And I just refreshed the page before posting and there is poor @GILL 301pm being sucked into the POLEDANCED debacle! LOL! I wasn't on the pole!!! Honest!!

@Anonymous 257pm and any others who wonder: a "malapop" is a termed (coined by ACME, I believe) which describes the situation when you enter an answer in one part of the grid, only to discover it "pops up" in another part, thereby rendering one of them incorrect. It is related to malaprop...2nd cousin, thrice-removed or some such.

ghthree 3:41 PM  

Two observations:
1: As far as I know, Einstein never wrote "E = mcsquared" anywhere. What he actually wrote in "Annalen der Physik" is more complicated, and virtually impossible to write on a single line in conventional notation. I think I have a copy in my library, which I can't reach until we get enough people vaccinated for herd immunity. Perhaps late this year, or early in the next?
2: What has two arms, four legs, and flies? A two-pants suit.

JD 3:46 PM  

@Gill, Now I'm standing in front of your soapbox doing my snort laugh and wiping my nose on my sleeve. Har!

sanfranman59 4:17 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
kitshef 4:22 PM  

The earliest reference to "malapop" I could find was Rex's column from August 18, 2008. Rex suggested calling the phenomenon an "Andrea". An anonymous poster (but actually Acme) suggested "apres vu", which did not take root, and then later suggested "malapop", which was immediately accepted.

Your little bit of blog history.

Joaquin 4:29 PM  

@M&A (3:03) - At his first lecture, Dr. Teller asked the class how many were familiar with the "theorem of
Pythagoras". With his heavy German accent half the class did not understand the question. Those that did understand, didn't bother to respond. So Dr. Teller spent about half the semester explaining a2 + b2 = c2.

Teller was brilliant as a scientist, but as a teacher - not so much.

GILL I. 4:32 PM  

@Pete 3:05....Ay dios mio. Don't throw the egg whites away. They are good for cleaning up bird poop from your car window. I have EVERY SINGEL ONE of your ingredients hiding in my old mother hubbards closet.... so I will begin to make huevos nog. I may need a GLASS EYE ball by the time I get to the rum.
Kumbaya, my friends.

sanfranman59 4:39 PM  

It's probably been asked out here before, but are the "rules" of crossword puzzles written down anywhere on the internets or are they of the unwritten variety (or is Rex the only source of these rules)?

I decided to do some Googling to answer my own question. Here are a couple of links that both mention duplicate words and duplicate components of compound words ...

Nancy 4:44 PM  

@Pete (3:05) -- One hour and ten minutes to make a drink???!!! You must be kidding!

Z 4:54 PM  

@JD - If your plan is to visit Presque Isle and Holland I hope you plan on spending some time in the mitten. Presque Isle is a ~300 mile drive from Holland. I had to get out the map and find Presque Isle. I found the town and the county. Current population of the county is <13,000. I’ve heard of the place and now realize I’ve driven through the county (on US 23) but didn’t realize I was there when I was driving through. Anywho... Veldheer Tulip Farm has a terrible webpage but Uncle Google has lots of TULIP pictures from there.

bocamp 5:19 PM  

@TTrimble, @Frantic Sloth, @albatross shell, @Anonymous 2:57 PM, @JC66, @kitshef 4:22 PM

Speaking of "malapop", I too, had one today with "erg". I also occasionally have what might be called "half-a-malapop", e.g., thinking (but not entering) "erg", only to find that it fits somewhere else in the puzzle.

@kitshef 4:22 PM

Thx for the definitive history of the coinage. :)

Peace 🕊

emily 5:27 PM  

And I am on the west coast & no one ever responds to my comments!

emily 5:31 PM  

So did you know 44D? I cruised/lived on a sailboat for 5 years...never used laid to

emily 5:35 PM  

Don’t get tulip....there is my ellipsis!

Barbara S. 5:56 PM  

By Popular Demand: **Warning -- A Story with a GLASS EYE (and Pornography)**

When I was 12 or 13 my best friend was Sally. After school we usually went to her house, which was fine by me because she had the coolest basement. That place was a Treasure Trove. There was an ancient adding machine down there which, for reasons that escape me now, we found fascinating. Somehow there were still paper rolls for it and we used to calculate ourselves silly for hours. Then there were the Miss Havisham gloves. This was a pair of long white ladies gloves up to the elbow, decorated with rows of tiny white buttons (some missing). They looked like the very thing for the elegant Victorian miss, except they were no longer in pristine condition. In fact, they had stains in just about every color. When we encountered Dickens in school, we thought they were the perfect complement to the Miss Havisham look. One fateful day Sally discovered her father’s collection of pornographic paperback novels. Gadzooks, if Mr. X had ever found out that we’d looked at them, he’d have gone apoplectic. And he was overweight and red-faced to begin with; a heart attack stalked his every move. Anyway, Sally could have gone into espionage: she always put everything back just so. You know [say I, becoming misty-eyed], I think back fondly on those books now. They were the most conservative, cleanest-cut version of pornography you can imagine. The sex was always consensual and (ahem) deeply satisfying. It was described pretty graphically, but if you’d removed those passages, you’d have had something close to a spicy, rambunctious romance novel. And also, they were educational.

Oh right, the GLASS EYE. One day Sally showed me a rather ornate small box and asked me to guess what was in it. I couldn’t, of course, so she spun a yarn about how it was a priceless sapphire and said usually the family didn’t show it to anybody because of its great value, blah, blah, blah. I did wonder why a precious gem would be kept in the dark recesses of a dusty basement, but hey, all families do things differently. Finally Sally, with a flourish and the speed of a cheetah, flung open the lid and…AN EYE WAS LOOKING AT ME! I sprang back about 3 feet – no, really, I actually knocked over a small wooden table and fell on top of it. When the world had righted itself and I’d picked myself up, I crept back to have another look. Sally, the wretch, was laughing her head off. That was the best reaction she’d ever got from anybody to anything. She told me that the glass eye had belonged to her grandmother, long since departed. Once I started looking at it closely I found I was quite mesmerized. First of all I was surprised that it wasn’t a full orb but something that would fit over part of an orb. And the smooth texture was so perfect and polished that when the light caught it, it looked almost wet. The white was a mellow sort of white and I loved the color of the iris, an unusual shade, somewhere between blue and green, and iridescent. So, in short, despite its initially scaring me half to death, the glass eye turned out to be a charming and beautiful object.

I've lost touch with Sally. She had a beautiful alto voice and I hope she's singing her heart out somewhere. She was the eldest in her family. I wonder if she inherited the glass eye and if she still shows it to people.

@JC66 (3:21 PM)
Here's winking at you, kid!

Birchbark 6:03 PM  

SEMELE defenders everywhere (@Jberg (10:38), @Barbara S. (1:41), et al.) -- see @A/Mimi's (12:39) link to the 20th c. British soprano Jennifer Vyvyan ( -- and a Saturday crossword name if I ever saw one). If you scroll about half-way down the main page, you can click to hear her sing from Handel's SEMELE. It is beautifully controlled, fluid voice. The website is exceptional and worth visiting.

Vyvyan sings the role of the Governess in my copy of Britten's "Turn of the Screw," which the composer conducts and which I am listening to now. It is draining -- pressure on, pressure off in a tragic descending cycle. No card overplayed, it devolves naturally.

Anoa Bob 6:55 PM  

The misdirect clue for 42A GLASS EYE is another example where much of the success of a tricky, misleading clue depends on it being written in non-standard English. Often this involves the omission of an article such as "the" or, as today, an "an". The clue should read "artificial object in an orbit". I'm as big a fan of clever misdirects and tricky clueing as any of yous, but when it's at the expense of using non-standard English, any "aha" becomes more of a "Yeah, I've seen this trick before".

When I saw the clue for 44D "Stopped a ship using the wind, in nautical lingo" I thought I had a 6-letter gimme with no crosses needed. I've performed this maneuver several times with my little ship, a 28 foot sloop-rigged sailboat. It's called "heaving to" and it's like "parking" your vessel while still at sea. It greatly calms the movement of the ship. Since the clue was in the past tense I figured that the answer would be HOVE TO. And it fit!

Alas, it was not to be. Maybe it's been used by others but this old salt has never heard LAID TO used that way. Maybe the seemingly unnecessary "nautical lingo" qualifier got me. Unnecessary in the sense of what other "lingo" would one use to describe "stopped a ship using the wind".

And what the hey? I thought the SB clutter issue had been LAID TO rest but I see it's starting to trickle back in. A little here, a little there and before we know it, we will have another pandemic on our hands!

JC66 7:11 PM  

@Barbara S

Great story, although I was hoping it would be more graphic. 😂

Like a few others on the blog, you write beautifully.

Thanks for sharing.

JC66 7:18 PM  

@Barbara S

See what a little wink will do?

@Anoa Bob

They do say ****SB ALERT**** so you're free. to skip past them.

Frantic Sloth 7:38 PM  

@bocamp 519pm I guess what you have there would be a halfapop? 😉

@Barbara S 556pm There are no words. I knew we were in for a good time at "calculate ourselves silly for hours", and I was not disappointed. The image of you crashing ass-over-teakettle into that table while she laughed uproariously made me feel your pain while loving evil Sally. Beautiful! Thank you!
(BTW, it might surprise you to know that I have played the role of Sally on more occasions than friends/family would care to remember.) 😉

Time to do the Sundee!

Z 7:56 PM  

Merriam-Webster says lay to has been around since 1796.

Wiktionary says lay to and heave to are synonyms.

I am not a sailor and had no problem with LAID TO. It seems a perfectly cromulent accompaniment to I MEAN TIT and the pole dancing discussion.

TTrimble 8:04 PM  

@Anoa Bob
With regard to SB: let me start by saying that I've observed that you also sometimes get into off-topic remarks and asides. I don't mind them -- not a bit -- but some instances I have in mind have nothing to do with that day's puzzle.

There is nothing remarkable in this. People are carrying on all sorts of conversations that bear only the most tangential relationships to the day's puzzle, or sometimes none at all. But people are enjoying them, and IMHO they should be allowed to enjoy them, in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.

I don't think people involved with SB are interested in pissing off others. The little bit of SB talk that has come up recently has been fairly modest and constrained, and I think worries about a coming "pandemic" are maybe a little premature. On behalf of a number of people who want to talk about it a little here and there, I respectfully ask for a little tolerance from those who aren't particularly interested.

The other option is to start policing each other's comments for rigorous adherence to the day's XW and no other conversations allowed, or counting the number of posts that each person makes, etc. That seems too onerous and unpleasant.

I recognize that some of the SB chat in the past got a little excessive and self-indulgent, and I apologize for my part in that. Hopefully we can achieve a balance.

Unknown 8:06 PM  

I'm probably in the minority, but I didn't find this puzzle difficult at all.
I've only been doing the NYT crosswords for a year and a half.
Today was my best ever Saturday time at just under 32 minutes.
I wish they were all like this.

A Moderator 8:13 PM  


The only SB posts of yours that rankled were those that contained spoilers. ;-)

TTrimble 8:21 PM  

@Barbara S.
Love it! Thanks so much for sharing! (Any chance you remember the titles of any of those novels?)

It sounds like Sally's house was full of little fantasies and family secrets. The basement is the perfect place for such darkness and mystery. And what a brilliantly executed prank she pulled! She obviously had a talent there...

(Yes, indeed, you do write well.)

TTrimble 8:24 PM  

Winking right back atcha, Moderator!

bocamp 8:42 PM  

@TTrimble 8:04 PM

Amen to that! :)

y.d. 0 / t.d. 0

Peace and Tolerance 🕊

bocamp 8:46 PM  

@Frantic Sloth 7:38 PM

"halfapop" it is then! 😉

Peace and Tolerance 🕊

puzzlehoarder 8:51 PM  

An unusually late post for me. I dnfed with ROLLERBAT. In my defense it's what you use to whack people who use the term ROLLERBAG.

**** SB Alert ****

As I predicted it's back to the grindstone, 71 words, 329 points and it still won't crack.

Anonymous 9:14 PM  

Viz TTrimble’s posts rankling. Nope. Not by a long shot.

Georgia 9:17 PM  

Thank you!

Anonymous 9:19 PM  

Attention :
He’ll kill you. He’ll explain your error, citing erroneous sources as the boat sinks and you drown.

Anonymous 10:52 PM  

@anon 9:14 did someone ask you your opinion about another commenter?

Anonymous 10:54 PM  

@anon Another belittling comment from you. You should be banned.

Anoa Bob 12:05 AM  

Yikes! Looks like I touched a sensitive spot there!

Giz 12:22 AM  

** SB Alert ** A first - have yet to get the pangram, though I have 69 words for 292 points, 60 points past genius. I always get the pangram, often first, and stop searching at about 20 pts above genius. It's too frustrating striving for QB - too many obscure words, not to mention too many words not recognized. Sorry for the rant; if there's a better forum for the SB, let me know.

Stevied 9:21 AM  

Rex’s time claims are bull... even his video solve WITH help were longer. Superego. Deluded

Taxed Too Much in NJ 9:39 AM  

Agreed!!! Thanks for making my mind thread through this!

Fred Wollam 5:34 PM  

This wasn't just the 10th or 12th time I've choked on such (glaring (imo) Will Shortzy cluing for OOLALA (or its more-common variant, OOHLALA). Legit-enough words, but *not* with a French-seeming clue. OOHLALA/OOLALA is WWI-Doughboy English for a *mispronounced* French expression, OH LÀ LÀ. Any cluing with the -OO- or -OOH- switcheroo should *not* be Frenchified in any such ham-handed way.

Girl Detective 12:21 PM  

My family does the later reprints of the puzzle in our local paper, and the 55A line had tall boxes, which we thought was a gimmick/theme, and were confused to learn was just a size to print issue, strange given the double use of the word SIZE in the puzzle?

thefogman 1:06 PM  

Not bad. Pretty challenging in spots, but it’s Saturday. Never heard of a ROLLERBAG (to me it’s just luggage with wheels) and GSN is just a vapor in my foggy memory bank. But I retrieved it and that was my last entry. My newspaper had a formating error which had the squares in the row right across 55A and 60A (ROMPER OLDHAVANA) twice the size of all the other squares. That made me try to hunt down a theme that did not exist. This is kind of the stuff that makes me GOBALD pulling out my hair and IMEANIT.

Diana, LIW 1:13 PM  

Didn't like this much. Oh well. Too many proper names that I didn't know, so I couldn't really "puzzle" them out. And too many ? type clues.

Oh well.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Anonymous 1:15 PM  

A smug, annoying pisserfest.

Burma Shave 1:23 PM  


My past AIN'T just that panty RAID,
IMEANT MOSTOFIT was checkered,
but I don't OBSESS O GO get LAID


leftcoaster 4:42 PM  

Pretty much a mixed bag today. Good and not-so-good, both entertaining and frustrating at the same time.

The down answers gave the most fits, starting with long downs HELLACOOL and SETONFIRE. Some of the shorter downs were annoying : GSN, UNI, and the quote-marked clue ‘"Hi” follower' for DEF. Why does HI DEF have quote marks on “Hi”? Meant to misdirect? The midi-length SEMELE and SWAZI didn’t fit very well either.

Okay, it is a Saturday puzzle, but more than a WEE bit OFF-putting today. Poor me.

rondo 5:53 PM  

Was Joanie Weston of the Bay Area Bombers a ROLLERBAG? The Kansas City Bomber (Racquel) wasn't.
Only write-over was first having SHUTup where one of the ITs belonged.
What would constructors do without yeah baby UMA?
Nice Sat-puz. AINT IT?

spacecraft 6:41 PM  

Major DNF. No clue about 8-down, and I had only two of its letters. Never heard of BLACKCOD, ROLLERBAG, or wherever the hell that tech thingie was invented. Three naticks--and all in the same word! Gotta be some kind of a RECORD.

Waxy in Montreal 1:06 PM  

@thefogman, my local newspaper (Montreal Gazette) had the same formatting issue with the squares in the row right across 55A and 60A (ROMPER OLDHAVANA) twice the size of all the other squares. Like you, thought some late week sophisticated trickery was required to solve there - wasted time, unfortunately.

ROLLERBAG/GSN (not ROLLERBAT/TSN apparently) and HUSTLE/DEF (not HASTEN/END) were Natticks for me leading to a DNF.

Saving graces were the sublime clues for GLASSEYE and ASTERISKS and the most original means of expressing E=MC2 I've ever seen.

Sam 9:13 PM  

Don't worry Emily I gotcha this time. Nice comment, Emily!

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