Wild cards in baseball poker / SAT 1-16-21 / Lead-in to some water-dwelling folk / Visibly dizzy quaintly / Savory snack in England / Disassociate as with a Bluetooth device / River that begins in the Adirondacks / Compound featured in latex / Historic town NW of London where some of the Harry Potter series was filmed / Actor profiled in the biography The Immortal Count

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Constructor: Sam Ezersky

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: none 

Word of the Day:
"SAW V" (34A: 2008 horror film sequel) —
Saw V is a 2008 horror film directed by David Hackl (in his feature directorial debut) from a screenplay by Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan. It is the fifth installment in the Saw film series. The film stars Tobin BellCostas MandylorScott PattersonBetsy RussellMark RolstonJulie BenzCarlo Rota, and Meagan Good. The plot follows FBI Agent Peter Strahm, who pursues Detective Mark Hoffman after discovering his identity as one of the Jigsaw Killer's apprentices and successor, while Hoffman begins designing his own Jigsaw "games" to test people and tries to frame Strahm to keep his identity secret. The film also explores Hoffman's backstory and explains how he became Jigsaw's apprentice, while continuing several story lines started in Saw IV. [...] The film received generally negative reviews from critics. The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports an approval rating of 13% based on 76 reviews, with a weighted average of 2.92/10. The site's consensus states "If its plot were as interesting as its torture devices, or its violence less painful than its performances, perhaps Saw V might not feel like it was running on fumes."  Metacritic reported the film had an average score of 20 out of 100, based on 13 reviews. (wikipedia)
• • •

Started this with seven correct guesses in a row: CUTEST APRS LAPUP SPA GAGS GARETH ASIT. Only hesitation there, ironically, was GARETH (ironic because I teach Arthurian literature—had the GA- and thought "GALAH- ... no, GAWAI- ... no. What the ...? Oh, right, GARETH. Deep cut!") (GARETH is one of Gawain's four brothers, killed by his childhood idol Lancelot during the latter's bizarrely heedless rescue of Guinevere near the end of Le Morte D'Arthur). The puzzle opened so easily, I was kind of surprised. Gave me the front end of MERRIAM-WEBSTER (easy), and parts of the front ends of all the top Acrosses. I was having an OK time until I was asked to piece together a hybrid instrument I did not know existed until (checks watch) today. Just now. GUITALELE is ... and I'm sorry if you're an aficionado ... the dumbest-sounding thing I've ever heard of. Literally awful coming out of your mouth. The sounds don't flow right. The ukulele is already like a mini-guitar, what are you even doing? (I know, string count, whatever.) It just looks so dumb in print. It is not great from a solving standpoint when the letters you have to piece together from crosses are "-LELE." Was that supposed to produce joy? Well, I hope it worked on you. This answer was lethally crossed by LETHALLY, which has the dumbest clue ever written: 3D: Bad way to be poisoned. Me: "... all of the ways?" What are the good ways to be poisoned? So GUITALELE with that LETHALLY clue chaser, oof. Trying way too hard to be novel in the first place, and then ... was that LETHALLY clue trying to be funny? I don't know. It all just kind of stank. I slowed down in that part of the puzzle, but only from disgust, not from true difficulty.

Also very let down by OBAMA SUPPORTER. The SUPPORTER part, actually, It was easy to get, but it was also so weak-seeming. I got OBAMA and thought, "well, that can't just be SUPPORTER, because then really you could put any politician's name in the grid and follow it with SUPPORTER." So even though SUPPORTER was the first thing that sprang to mind, I didn't write it in. This led to my only (short-lived) experience of being stuck in this puzzle: could not get either M--ON or --DE from their clues. I figured I'd get one of those, and then I'd know if SUPPORTER were right. But neither made any sense to me. So I just abandoned that area and went back to the west and got going again over there. Flew down and around the south, with only CORNISH PASTY holding me up at all (and only because the clue was vague). Finished at perhaps the most disappointing square in the grid: the EASTON (?) / BUSHEY (???) crossing. Two inconsequential place names, crossing each other, fantastic. Luckily I've heard of EASTON. BUSHEY ... is just an excuse for you to gratuitously wedge a Harry Potter clue in here? Why? Why would you do that? If *that* is BUSHEY's claim to "fame," maybe it isn't ... famous? Enough? By the way if you want a good EASTON clue, try ["Morning Train (9 to 5)" singer Sheena ___]. Oh ... wow, I just found out that Sheena EASTON was (hold on to your tams) NÉE ORR. That's some prime crossword DNA. She deserves to be the only EASTON clue. I am now a SHEENA SUPPORTER (where EASTON clues are concerned).

The answers up top are delightful, and I especially enjoyed the clue on MUSEUM EXHIBIT (13A: Remains to be seen, say). TIDEPOD weirdly dates the puzzle (well, the clue does, anyway) (11D: It was once a challenge to eat). UNPAIR is a word that I hate (so ugly) but love (so current and in-the-language). Gratuitous poker reference on my favorite number (NINES) was deeply unwelcome (46D: Wild cards in "baseball" poker). It was all over pretty fast. Have a nice day.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


PhilM 6:28 AM  

Brit here. Cornish pasty is not a snack. It was created as a complete, self-contained meal (meat + veg in a sealed pastry case) to be safely taken down Cornish tin mines and eaten mid-shift.

Diver 6:51 AM  

Hey Rex, there's no "R" in GUITALELE.

Lewis 7:03 AM  

Oh, I knew what to expect coming in, seeing that this was a Sam Saturday – the opposite of the first two letters of his last name.

I expected to sit and be stymied, and wait, and marinate, and let things come, ort by ort (pardon my crosswordese), and have faith, above all, have faith, because crosses would be fair. I knew there would be many clues well protected in muddleness, but that the murk would lighten, and, if I had patience and persistence, clear.

I love this kind of solve. It’s not a slog. I don’t leave it battle scarred. It’s more an odyssey, a drawing from the universe, a going from “huh” to “Hah!”, inch by precious inch.

And there it was, that last square filled in, with me thinking, Sam, you did it again. You played it again, gave me a most lovely spate of time. Thank you, sir.

Whitey 7:10 AM  

Good writing, Lewis. Superb description of the solve.

Lewis 7:17 AM  

Two technical points. I see in Sam's comments on XwordInfo that he doesn't use a computer program to help him fill in the grid, and no personal word list. Coming up with this puzzle without these aids -- that is pure talent.

Also, this puzzle has 11 NYT answer debuts, including the lovely AT EASE, SOLDIER, and 'SHROOM, which I can't believe hasn't been in a puzzle before.

Brett 7:22 AM  

As a resident of Easton, PA, I sound my barbaric yawp. We have arrived!

Guilherme Gama 7:34 AM  

I had __IT for 2D ("____ happens...") and had to remind myself that these puzzles are PG.

Also wasted an ungodly amount of time thinking up all the different ways one could be poisoned, while at the same time thinking how one could be worse than the other.

smalltowndoc 7:47 AM  

One of Rex’s comments really raises my hackles: This small town doc’s town can be found at the junction of the Lehigh and the Delaware Rivers! Home of Crayola Crayons, Lafayette College and the “Easton Assassin", former heavyweight boxing champ, Larry Holmes. And one half of one of the oldest U.S. high school football rivalries: Easton/Phillipsburg, since 1906! The Declaration of Independence was read publicly for the first time on July 8, 1776 in three cities: Philly, Trenton and Easton!

I feel much better now.

Kased 7:48 AM  

I call fair on the OBAMA SUPPORTER clue. “Yes we can” was a slogan used in his campaign.

Loren Muse Smith 7:55 AM  

I can’t remember what my first entry was, but the deadly-wrong “shallot” as my bouillabaisse tidbit went in very early to stink things up. Even as I wrote it, I was thinking that “vichyssoise tidbit” would have been kinder since everyone knows that bouillabaisse is seafood. Sheesh.

The thing that stands out to me this morning is the cluing. I mean, seriously. The clues for CALL THE SHOTS, MUSEUM EXHIBIT, MASON, SPA, SCRAPBOOK, EVE, MERRIAM WEBSTER. . . all most excellent.

“Fox News” has the same number of letters as T MOBILE. Someone told me that they’re starting to dump Trump over there, too. I try to watch those guys sometimes, but I always end up feeling ashamed that my mom, sisters, brother-in-law actually subscribe to the crap. My sister posted something recently on Facebook admiring Kayleigh McEnany, and I was so disheartened. Kayleigh is in many ways more obnoxious and ridiculous than Trump. My sister and I have always been close, but these past five years have resulted in an uncomfortable schism between us that we both carefully avoid.

This word, CUTE, seems to be in transition. I’m hearing youngerish girls use it when I absolutely would not use it. For me, it means cute as in a puppy or a little kid SPLASHing in a mud puddle. Right? But I’ve been hearing people use it more generally, like on The Bachelor, they round the corner to see an elegant table, complete with candles and wine, and the girl says, How cute. I swear. I always sit up and take note. Huh? I would say How nice or How pretty. It’s only cute if it has a Hello Kitty or Chia Pet as a centerpiece. That’s gonna be a hard one to adopt. But adopt I will.

UNPAIR – my car cheerfully does this to me and my phone if my daughter drives it with her phone. So then I get in to go to work, get everything set just right – coffee in place, seat belt, yellow glasses to help with glare - and hit the road only to discover that I cannot listen to my Ologies podcast on condors because my phone has been UNPAIRed, and it won’t let me pair it while in gear. It’s 4am. Backroads. No turn-outs to pull over and remedy things. So I have to toggle between CNN and MSNBC trying to avoid all commercials.

I still don’t believe that anyone actually ingested a TIDE POD, but I’m told this did happen. I get all incredulous and disgusted until I remember I chewed up and swallowed a rock from Jo Ann H’s driveway when I was little, and that wasn’t even on a dare. I just suddenly had to do it. I must have chosen my morsel well because honestly I had no problem chewing it up. Maybe it was talc?

Loved being shown that IAN is also a suffix. I immediately thought of Mom’s lifelong friend, Ish. Short for Priscilla.

I drank my coffee from a big bowl at a country home in France. Not because all the mugs were in the dishwasher but rather because that’s just how they do it there. I felt all worldly and well-travelled and tried to handle the bowl and take little sips like I had done it all my life.

@Guilherme Gama – you speaka my language.

Never have I ever. . . seen the word deaccessioned. I looked into the difference between accession and ascension. They’re pretty close as regards moving up and acquiring some kind of title or position. There’s an Accession Day, the day a monarch or executive takes office. So I guess one man’s Accession Day is another man’s Deaccession Day. See ya later, Don. Don’t let the door hit you in your REAR ENDS as you slither out and begin your new life who knows where. Your options are shrinking by the hour.

Megan 8:13 AM  

That’s exactly what I said!

Twangster 8:14 AM  

Overall I thought this was a fun challenge. I ended up having to google to get BUSHEY because I was locked into CORNISHPASTA and (stupidly) had ORSI instead of URSI.

Anonymous 8:16 AM  

Well done smalltowndoc ! Thanks for the Easton PA history. Sounds like a cool place.

Anonymous 8:20 AM  

I initially had a wrong square when I tentatively wrote in oRSi and BoSHEY. I should have thought of ursa major and minor, but orso is Italian for bears and orsi its plural I believe so a natural mistake. Sometimes knowing a tiny bit about a couple of romance languages can be a disadvantage. EASTON was easy since I live in PA but those crosses were definitely the low point for an otherwise good grid.

Frantic Sloth 8:28 AM  

First thought: "Is there a good way to be poisoned?"

The attempt at humor with 13D is really a stretch. "Company at which business always comes before pleasure?" MERRIAMWEBSTER may be a "company", but it's a weak label. Oh, but look! "business" literally comes before "pleasure" in the dictionary! Isn't that clever?

CORNISHPASTY crossing BUSHEY at the "Y", no less really got my cork. Not being British, never heard of either, so I had to look up the savory snack after my first 2 guesses ("e", then "a") crapped the bed. The good news is that now I'm more likely to retain this little tidbit because it ticked me off.

Liked LETITGOALREADY, CALLTHESHOTS (punny dad humor), AKIMBO, ATEASESOLDIER, and especially the two Queens of Delight who made the grid: MERYL and GILL.

Wasn't a fan of ARIGATO or SARANAC.

Why is there such a thing as a GUITALELE? Is this really necessary? Bad enough we get the "designer dog" whatsits, now we have "spliced instruments", too?

Speaking of dad humor and AKIMBO...cute little aside:
As a child, I dabbled in the drama queen method of pleading my case, then protesting the outcome. My father knew enough not to indulge me or take my histrionics seriously. One day after executing the requisite foot stomp with my arms AKIMBO and my face silently screaming "Welll? C'mon!", my father looks at me and calmly asks "what's the matter? Did you lose your rye bread?"
It was enough to stop me dead in my tracks and veer off from indignation toward curiosity because really, what the hell did that mean?? He explained that in the "old days" people would carry their loaves of bread (Why rye? No idea. Ask @Z 😉) under their arms like that. So my "empty" arms AKIMBO prompted his question. It was so stupid it was funny and to this day whenever someone I know strikes that pose for whatever reason, I ask the question. It means absolutely squadoosh to them, but I find it hilarious.
Story of my life, that.


TJS 8:51 AM  

Thank you all ! I have to say the quality of writing in the comments has really been on an uptick lately. Today was a perfect example, atleast the first 14 comments that I have read. @LMS, Frantic,Lewis, et al, hearing from you all is a great way to start the day.

amyyanni 9:00 AM  

Felt like 2 different puzzles. Hied through the South (knew an alum of Lafayette) but hit several brick walls tramping North. Good Saturday challenge.

TTrimble 9:12 AM  

Well if it isn't my old nemesis Sam Ezersky! He and his Spelling Bee deflate me on a daily basis, and today's XW did not come up short in this respect either. Easy, Rex? Hmm... Seen against my historical average (doing the puz every day for a little over a year now), my time was actually pretty good, but it felt sloooow.

The clue for 35 Down (ARIGATO) had the cartoon question marks popping out of my head: no success parsing that as a run-on English word, obviously. I saw Lewis's note. Does that also mean he (Sam) also happened to know the anglicized Japanese and could write it down without looking it up? Showoff.

EX LIB. Hm. I've seen EX LIBris, certainly. (Is there really an imperative need to shorten that?) Again the cluing looks a little showoff-y (I'm with @LMS here, as I am elsewhere -- more in a moment).

Agree with Rex on LETHALLY. Worst way to be be poisoned, how about.

My sluggish brain had trouble with PBS (Gah -- forgot about the kids' program, and was imagining... well, I don't know what I was imagining, but it would be on ABC) and BOSOM and REAR ENDS. Funny, when I hear "cans" as slang for body parts, I'm usually thinking BOSOM (breasts). Otherwise, was trying to think of "cans" as in fires, gives the pink slip to, etc. and was coming up with bupkes. Or tuches. Or whatever it is.

The PPP was yucky. As in the EASTON-BUSHEY cross. T MOBILE GAGS me with a spoon. GARETH, MERYL, SAW V, TERI, SARANAC.

The long acrosses are good, both the answers and the clues, with a minor exception of AT EASE, SOLDIER. I'm sure it's just me, but it's the SOLDIER which sounds both unnecessary and a bit dickish. "At ease, nameless cog in the machine."

Okay, back to @Loren Muse Smith. I could hug her for admitting to watching The Bachelor. Maybe it's not so bad in my case admitting the same, as I've already established my lowbrow TV-watching cred a while back when I defended Wheel of Fortune. Anyway, I'm glad to have the company, and I'll go on to say the show TB is genius in a stew-in-their-own juices sort of way. Especially fun when I have my kids around, with their feverish and fertile imaginations making up back stories for the characters. (Dale, for example -- the one that Clare cloistered herself with to the exclusion of all others -- is revealed to be a cyborg and his name stands for Dating And Love Emulator.) Yes, the show is dehumanizing, both for the contestants and perhaps more subtly and insidiously for us viewers at home, but I gotta say, there are worse ways to be poisoned.

(Oh yeah: I'm not a robot.)

Hungry Mother 9:13 AM  

Am I the only commenter that was stumped by the Japanese? WTF.

Nancy 9:15 AM  

Enormously tough and enormously rewarding. Nothing in this puzzle was easy for me. I ended up with a 1-letter DNF, but who cares? I consider my solve a moral victory.

Every long answer I got in a section where I was struggling gave me a huge "Aha" and a feeling of relief. The marvelously clued MERRIAM WEBSTER finally came in and I said to myself: "Now I'm going to solve it!!" But no, not yet. Same thing with NATIONAL ANTHEM (why didn't I see that sooner?) But no, not yet.

ShALLOt before SCALLOP for 36D, leading me to CORNISH tASTY. Well, why not? But there's no such thing as a ShRAPBOOK. Eventually corrected that section, finally figured out REAR ENDS and I was done...I thought.

Nope. Came here and found out that it was SAW V crossing EVE and not SAW R crossing ERE. Oh well -- I'm not going to get all AREEL over it. I'm going to LET IT GO ALREADY.

Loved this puzzle, Sam. And the clue/answer CALL THE SHOTS is inspired.

Mr. Cheese 9:15 AM  

@frantic sloth - I don’t remember where/when I first heard it but I also think “ Did you lose your rye bread” when I see that pose.

Frantic Sloth 9:19 AM  

Wow. Sheena EASTON? Way to,stay current, Rex. 🤣🤣
Well, at least that video sheds new light on who Eddie Redmayne as The Danish Girl reminded me of.

@Brett 722am 🤣🤣

@Guilherme Gama 734am 🤣👍
I would ASIT if that (very popular) colloquialism ever made it into a NYTXW.

@TJS 851am Awwww! And I agree!

pabloinnh 9:23 AM  

One of those days with a parallel OFL experience, as first guesses were invariably right, starting with CALLTHESHOTS with its attendant descending CUTEST. Same reaction to LETHALLY and GUITALELE as RP as well. Never quite sure how to feel about agreeing with him, as I almost always find lemonade where he finds lemons. Coincidences will happen, fer sure.

Having visited my son and family in England we are well acquainted with the CORNISHPATY, and I've never had a bad one.

Nice to have more EASTON information. I know them as a manufacturer of softball bats and gloves.

First river that came to mind as rising in the Adirondacks was the HUDSON, which of course didn't fit and was further eliminated by SAWSV. The S from SAWS filled me briefly with hope and joy, as I thought, SACANDAGA? Really? This was a river of my hometown in the Adirondacks. It was famously dammed to control spring flooding as far away as Albany, and the resulting large body of water was for years called the Sacandaga Reservoir, until someone realized the negative effect that was having on tourism. It is now called the Great Sacandaga Lake, and is enjoyed by lots and lots of people with summer places and fishermen and water skiers and what have you. SARANAC Lake is nice too, but much farther north, and frequently has the lowest temperature readings in the state. And that's enough Adirondack Geography for today.

Hey @LMS, I'm glad your driveway rock wasn't a POS, or Piece of Schist.

Thanks for all the fun, Mr. E. You can do my Saturday puzzles every Saturday, and I wish you would.

bocamp 9:27 AM  

Thank you, @Sam, a very crunchy Sat. puz with lots of clever cluing. A worthwhile challenge! :)

Tough solve; not at all on my wavelength, but loved the battle and forged on, knowing that it would come together in the end.

Dnf on the "y" at 43D & 56A; was looking at "paste" or "pasta", but never ran the alphabet to see the possibility of "pasty". My bad. :(

Bought my granddaughter a "guitalele" for her B.D. a few years ago.

Stevie Wonder ~ Superstition - "Guitalele" cover

pg -3

Peace Tolerance Kindness Togetherness 🕊

Yooper 9:40 AM  

In case you're curious Cornish Pasty is pronounced with a short a.

RooMonster 9:48 AM  

Hey All !
Easy, says Rex. Ha! Says I. This was a toughie! Use of the Check Puzzle feature just so I could continue trying to fill stuff in. No real cheat, just the Check cheat. And still finished with an error. oRSI and PASTe. Oh well.

Do you strum or pluck a GUITALELE?

Tough-to-fill wide open spots in the NE and SW corners. Three long Acrosses crossed with a 14 Down in each! Wowsers. And ended up with clean fill.

I often get pissed at Sam for some of the esoteric words in the SB, hardly any in this puz. Sam, man, take it easy on us SBers!
*Sorta Spoiler Alert to SB*
Examples of esoterica in SB: A few days ago, two of the words were chignon and cioppino. C'mon man! The second one gets the red underline from Blogger, ergo, not a word! Har.

Was trying to think of the Knights in Monty Python and the Holy Grail to help me with GARETH. Alas, he wasn't one of them in said movies. Just the Knights Who Say Ni! (Hi puz maker @Karl Ni!)

Anyway, nice puz, even though I struggled.

One F

Ann Howell 9:49 AM  

It was all a bit . Was trying to fit "CHEESE TOASTY" in for 56A, for the reason mentioned above - a CORNISH PASTY is a meal, not a snack! Also, I live in London, have watched all of the Harry Potter movies and still had never heard of BUSHEY. I love a good themeless, but this was not one...

Frantic Sloth 9:50 AM  

@pabloinnh 923am Loved your "POS". Frankly, I was thinking the same, but didn't know how to phrase. Elegantly done! Did you, by any chance recall that "rock-hunting/gathering" scene in The Shawshank Redemption, too? No? Just me? Wouldn't be the first/won't be the last time. 🤷‍♀️

@bocamp 927am Thank you! I first said that before watching your link. Holy crikey, Batman! What a talent that girl has - I even subscribed, which I very rarely do!

@Yooper 940am Good to know!

Unknown 9:55 AM  

@ Frantic Sloth: "Oh, but look! "business" literally comes before "pleasure" in the dictionary! Isn't that clever?

LETITGOALREADY. That was actually one of the more clever and fun clues we've seen in a while. Made me smile. You're starting to sound like a mini-rex.

Not sure why rex chose to highlight SAWV. After the initial film which was pretty clever and devious, the franchise slowly drifted to more and more gore. Unwatchable by the time this one rolled around.

Peter P 10:03 AM  

For whatever reason, having "AT IT" and "AS IT" as answers in the same puzzle irked me.

KRMunson 10:05 AM  

Tremendously tough for me and I eat pastys at least weekly. Definitely not on my wavelength through clues were very well done. Can only blame myself for the DNF.

Odd Sock 10:12 AM  

You can be poisoned without dying. Remember all-you-can-eat buffets and how you felt the next day?

Z 10:16 AM  

Well, this one kicked my REAR ENDS three weeks past Tuesday, but mostly for the right reasons, clever cluing.

I thought it was in the Crossworld Constitution that all rivers are four letters long. SARANAC was in the deeper reaches of the geography attic at the bottom of the chest in the back corner covered in dust and cobwebs. EASTON was in the same attic, but closer to the door. That our Maid of Honor lived there for awhile helped, but the rivers clue did nothing more than put it in eastern Pennsylvania. Hand up for questioning the crossworthiness of BUSHEY. I knew the America’s Network was a cell phone service provider, but Liberty Mutual Insurance is so ubiquitous at the moment that it has pushed all other slogans down the basement stairs where they are all piled in a heap. Lots of times the PPP trivia provides anchors so that the more interesting stuff is sussable. Not so today.

The business before pleasure clue crossing CORNISH PASTY had me pondering Cornwall’s strip clubs.

AT EASE SOLDIER has a strong John Wayne WWII movie vibe to it.

AGS is getting the side eye. Doesn’t the D.O.J. have exactly one A.G? Seems like if you want Attorneys General you need some sort of reference to the states.

@LMS - CUTEST - And there’s definition 2, making CUTE an insult. How are we ever to understand what anyone means?

@Frantic Sloth - I’m with Muse on MERRIAM-WEBSTER, if you’re going to give me 14 letter PPP give me an interesting clue. Besides, CORNISH strip clubs.

Teedmn 10:21 AM  

Well I certainly lost my rye bread today. Two, two!! wrong squares. Because I thought BUSHEe looked fine and CORNISH PASTe is probably right up there with vegemite/marmite, thought I. Of course I've heard of a CORNISH PASTY but that didn't keep me from making the error.

And not knowing the SARANAC, I threw in SAjANAC because I liked the cut of its jIB. Yup.

Whenever I see/hear the "Yes we can" slogan, it reminds me of this snarky comment. Pretty mild by today's standards but it still makes me put my arms AKIMBO and snarl.

Sam Ezersky, thanks for the workout!

Nancy 10:22 AM  

Shoutout to @Frantic and @Gulherme Gama (and I gather Rex made the same observation) for their comments on LETHALLY. I had exactly the same reaction that everyone else did -- as in "is there a good way?" But then -- yes, I'll admit it -- I laughed when I saw the answer. And just remember -- Ingrid Bergman didn't die in "Notorious".

@Loren -- I love "Deaccession Day" and also the thought of his "REAR ENDS". Our soon-to-be ex-president certainly would appear to have more than one.

To @TTrimble, who seems apologetic for watching "The Bachelor" and to @Loren who doesn't: Fran Liebowitz whose Netflix series I raved about yesterday, was discussing "guilty pleasures" on the segment I watched last night. To paraphrase what she said: "What's a 'guilty pleasure'? Who came up with such a concept? Pleasure doesn't make me feel guilty. Killing someone would make me feel guilty. If my pleasure doesn't hurt anyone else, why would I ever feel guilty about it?" She put it sort of like that -- only much better, of course. So continue on with "The Bachelor", guiltlessly. @TTrimble, while I'll continue to guiltlessly watch "Chopped".

GILL I. 10:29 AM  

Ay caramba......My Cha Cha just flew out the window. MERYL took one look at me and said ARIGATO, GILL.
I want to do the squadoosh with @Frantic and have a drink with @Loren.
OK..so where to begin? You played me good, Sam. I got some of your fiendishness cluing at the bottom of the barrel but that GUITALELE gave me the RUDE SEEP GAGS. (And you don't want to hear that).....
Who on this frikkin earth eats a TIDE POD? My BOSOM runneth over.
I'm not a Debby downer but this one had me at CORNISH PASTY. @PhilM 6:28 had it right. It's not really a snack. It's a full grown meal. Now, if you're at my house, we call them empanadas.
BUSHEY, URSI and EASTON went into a bar....they ordered?.....yep....LAPUP.

puzzlehoarder 10:36 AM  

I've become so addicted to the SB that when I saw the constructors' name my first thought was this puzzle will consist of all the words he doesn't allow on the SB lists. Instead I was reminded of what a talented constructor he is.

I had the same issues as many others. The bottom stack was easier than the top one. Much time was spent thinking of the ways to be poisoned and trying to make an English sentence from that word in the 35D clue.

In the south I had the SHALLOT/SCALLOP and the ORSI/URSI write overs to deal with. Up north it was worse. The eastern ends of both GARETH and GUIALELE we're especially slippery. When AKIMBO went right in I expected the north center to fall and it only yielded an incorrect FEEL ME at 6D. Later I had to change ARCO to BRIO. I was thinking of TV networks for 5D right up until the right answer was forced on me.

Everything self corrected in the end but it took more than twice as long as yesterday's solve so twice as much fun.

Sixthstone 10:40 AM  

Thumbs Up!

@Lewis 7:03 - nailed it

Richardf8 10:45 AM  

Sorry, Rex, you clue EASTON with Sheena on a Monday, not a Saturday. That said Easton/Bushey is a classic Natick. Oh, and now that Natick is the town of residence of that couple eBay terrorized, is it famous enough?

ChuckD 10:45 AM  

Excellent cluing all around - it took me awhile to get a groove going but in the end I was better for it. Hand up for wanting Shit for 2D and even higher hand up for never seeing deaccessioned before. I think once a LIB always a LIB.

Liked the bottom half better than Rex - the AT EASE SOLDIER and CORNISH PASTY stack was solid. The vertical MERRIAM WEBSTER is an apt entry for this puzzle.

Growing up upstate Saranac went in quickly. The NE was rough - TIDE POD and STYRENE are just ugly and OBAMA SUPPORTER is temporal and no longer relevant.

Wonderful and challenging Saturday.

Peter WC 10:47 AM  

If I remember my Latin, URSI is just plain wrong for plural of URSA. It's URSAE, or various other forms depending on the case. Never URSI. Major flub.

Michiganman 10:50 AM  

Yooper knows. For those coastal folks, Yooper refers to residents of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. U.P.-----Yooper. Pasties from the U.P. are excellent. There is a history of copper mining and miners took pasties into the mines for a hearty meal. Again, short "a". Nothing to do with strip clubs.

Joe Dipinto 10:57 AM  

Sheena? Pfft. She's okay. Here's some guitar handiwork from Elliot Easton of The Cars.

Deb Sweeney 11:03 AM  

Loved this one, fun cluing and doable. I feel bad that my first responses were "Sh*t happens" and the even more inappropriate "open casket" for "Remains to be seen." Not that that even fits . . . I also thought "SD Card" for "It might have a photographic memory" - again doesn't fit at all, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. Only real problem was "doitashimashite" which I somehow read as some kind of Irish hashtag slang response. You shima shite, you.

What? 11:07 AM  

Re: The Oyster Eater. I see your point but there are alternative interpretations. She may be passing gas or preparing to poison the painter for making her sit so long. I agree though that “Lust” is the most likely emotion especially as its one of the five elements, Fire, Earth, etc..

Peter P 11:07 AM  

@Peter WC - yes, "ursae" is the nominative plural of "ursa", but "ursi" is the nominative plural of "ursus." An bear is "ursus." A female bear is "ursa." So the clue and answer pair are fine.

Unknown 11:07 AM  

I thought surely EASTON was the home of the baseball bat company, since so many others are from that general part of the country, but apparently it was founded in 1977 in Van Nuys, CA. Those Easton aluminum bats I was swinging as a kid were some of the early models, who knew?

Very satisfying solve!

BUSHY is a geography clue posing as a Harry Potter clue. Not in any of the books, maybe listed deep in the credits long after you have peeled the soles of your shoes off the floor. On a similar note, most opera clues on Jeopardy are actually mythology or history clues.

There was a PASTY challenge on a recent season of the Great British Baking Show, sho that came pretty quickly, Cornish being a familiar place name for the hens, at least.

Never did get an answer to my question: has anyone ever seen someone "pluck" a ukulele, as opposed to strumming it?

Tim Aurthur 11:12 AM  

Yes, the clue for BUSHEY is dismally unhelpful. If you go on a tour of the southern UK you'll learn that every village and town and hamlet provided a setting for at least one scene in the HP movies. Trust me.

TJS 11:17 AM  

Didn't mean to leave anyone out with my earlier comment. You all make my day on a regular basis.

Also, I forgot to mention that this puzzle was a real treat, as usual, by Mr. Sam. Lots of entering and erasing, staring at empty spaces, etc. You know, all the good stuff that makes a Saturday worth the struggle.

bocamp 11:25 AM  

@Frantic Sloth 9:50 AM

Yw 😊 I subscribed too.

SB stuff


Coincidence: I didn't come anywhere near getting "chignon", but when watching an episode of "Foyle's War" later that day, noticed that Sam (one of the protagonists) often wore her hair in a chignon-like style.

I love the pronunciation: "chignon".

Embarking on today's SB; hoping for better results than yesterday. 🤞

Peace Tolerance Kindness Togetherness 🕊

Smith 11:28 AM  

EX LIBris just means "from the library of ___". As a child I was given bookplates (picture of Hiroshige's Wave) printed Ex Libris [myname]. Felt very grown up. To me a deaccessioned book would be a discard, and they're usually stamped that way.

Puzzle: UNsync before UNPAIR really messed things up in that area. Otherwise smooth, thanks Sam!

Z 11:31 AM  

@Peter WC - I was thinking it must be a plural in a different case, but all I found was URSIS. Looking for URSI I did find the International Union of Radio Science (not that the acronym makes sense in either English or French) and Uva URSI, “Bear’s Grape.” But unless some professor of Latin comes along with clarification it sure looks wrong. Good catch.

@Yooper and @Michiganman - Those are Finnish PASTies. I’ve heard the food stuff pronounced both ways, so have no clue how people from Cornwall might say that A.

Tom R 11:32 AM  

Roomonster pretty well summed it up for me. I liked it because I struggled but when the right answer finally dawned on me THEN the clue made more sense. Its kind of a retrospective enjoyment kernel. Good example is 55A. Stop saluting is clearly (for me) ORDER ARMS which doesn't fit, but the folksy AT EASE SOLDIER which must exist in hundreds of movies is a great answer.

Whatsername 11:33 AM  

What a beautiful themeless and great clues all over the place. MERRIAM WEBSTER was especially brilliant. Challenging for me and I had to cheat for GUITALELE and a couple of others but that’s okay, it’s Saturday.

I’m betting I’m not the only person whose first reaction to the clue “____ happens” was one word, not two. AKIMBO is a great descriptive term but I haven’t seen it in ages. So is UNPAIR; sounds so much nicer than uncouple. I always thought a CORNISH PASTY was considered an entree rather than a snack. Whatever it is, I’ll bet our @GILL could whip one up in no time.

I loved NATIONAL ANTHEM over SOLDIER and I hope there is no RUDE behavior on Wednesday so they can all remain AT EASE. Read an article which said Melania has been working on her SCRAPBOOK collection and is more than ready to FLEE to Florida. Can’t say I blame her. LET IT GO ALREADY.

Frantic Sloth 11:34 AM  

@Z 1016am You make a valid point re MERRIAMWEBSTER. I don't necessarily agree, but at least you did it by addressing my critique and not me. What a concept.
Also, thanks for making me unable to not imagine Cornwall's strip clubs.

@Nancy 1022am LOL! at REARENDS: "Our soon-to-be ex-president certainly would appear to have more than one." There goes the POC argument! We finished "Pretend It's a City" last night and now my life has no meaning. Might have to watch it again. :)

@GILL 1029am RUDE SEEP GAGS doesn't seem to pass the all-important breakfast test, but who cares? LOL!

What? 11:36 AM  

CODFISHPASTE. One of many oofs.
Ezersky does this without a computer? He is one who has unusual neuronal connections like piano protégés and theoretical physicists. No fair.

albatross shell 11:39 AM  

Top third was a mess for me. Didn't get any of the longs early. Bottom 2/3 went in quickly with no googling. NATIONALANTHEM GILL BOSOM SKIN BOSOM and I was off and running. Living in PA made EASTON easy and made SARANAC slowly identifiable. And Rex: EASTON will be an interesting and historic city long after Sheena is long forgotten. So if you're going PPP, choose the city.

Same initial question as Rex at the poison clue, which is exactly why I found the answer very satsfying. With @Nancy who found CALLTHESHOTS funny. @frantic: I really despise the term "dad joke". At first I thought it was because it was an insult to dads. When did I become so sensitive? Now I realize it's because it is used as a blanket debasement of puns. So #$%&you and no I'm enjoying rye toast right now.

MERRIAMWEBSTER was a hit with me too because my first instinct was to check if some dictionary company would fit. I was pleasantly surprised when the crosses slowly revealed it actually was. The reason for the dictionary idea was that in some form-follows-function philosophy 101 discussion someone said "not in the dictionary". Another one I remember from college: There was an exam final and we were told that when we were done to put the exam on the corner of the desk and leave. Hot day, windows open. After a few people left a breeze came up and the papers, one at a time, started sailing through the air and settling on the ground. As the prof got up to gather them up some wag observed "the answers are blowing in the wind".

My first guess, based on crosses filled in, for the bottom long was gaRNISH PASTe.

Grid design and clues and answers: The very model of a Saturday puzzle.

A 11:39 AM  


Difficulty level: easy - yeah, right, IF you start off with seven correct guesses in the NW. Nigh impossible without them. Took me twice as long as yesterday, but I managed to get the happy ditty with no cheats. I actually had the sh for the first two letters of 2D but took them right out after enjoying that little moment.

Several answers I balked until no other choice remained.
I formally object to the characterization of LETHALLY as a “way” to be poisoned. “Ways” brings to mind methods, ie. by injection, topically, or orally, which could be either disguised in food or drink or replacing some non-LETHAL medication with the poison. Or with different types of poisons, like arsenic or cyanide or hemlock. Or even different types of poisonings like religious or political. LETHALLY just describes the end result. End of rant.

Thought of con motO, then vivO but only committed to the O until HEARME shouted con BRIO.

Like Rex, I got the OBAMA start and waited, not trusting the obvious and tepid SUPPORTER. (off topic alert** OBAMA - a tepid SUPPORTER of HRC in 2016?)

CALLTHESHOTS was the first of the aaahhaaaa (my aha moments were very drawn out today) and I was afraid it was a bad sign. “oh, haha, a doctor orders shots.” Thankfully there were one after another (still very drawn out) ahas, MUSEUMEXHIBIT being the sparkliest.

Several “Duh!” moments. Would’ve gone with ShALLOt if SCRAPBOOK hadn’t already appeared. SCALLOP. Duh. Knew ATEASE but had to get SPLASH and remove Aux (vapeurs) to see SOLDIER. Duh. NATIONALANTHEM - double duh, as we had a recent discussion about it here. Also hulL before KEEL.

I knew CORNISHPASTY, probably from devouring all the James Herriot books as a youngster. I thought of pasta first for a brief moment. CORNISHPASTa? I think I actually snorted at the thought.

Thanks to Sam for letting me get one!

Donna 11:40 AM  

I own 5 ukuleles--2 concerts and 3 sopranos--and a banjolele, a hybrid ukulele/banjo with 4 strings. I had never heard of a guitalele until today's puzzle. Thanks, Sam!

Azzurro 11:44 AM  

The EASTON/BUSHEY cross needed work. The constructor mentioned that he couldn’t fit other option, but they still could have clued it as Sheena or something other than pure Natick for those of us unfamiliar with Pennsylvania and London neighborhoods.

mathgent 11:46 AM  

22 of the 64 entries were mysteries to me (either I didn't know them or the clues were indecipherable). That's 34%. 25% usually puts me into DNF territory. But ... I solved the damn thing with no lookups. What a good boy am I!

Absolutely great puzzle. I was especially impressed with the cluing. Devilish but fair.

The Immortal Count. What a great title for Bela's bio.

egsforbreakfast 11:48 AM  

I was AREEL, arms AKIMBO, at the Rye Marina with no bread, just watching the SARANAC flow by, when a GI and a Pullman employee asked me to join them at a celebrity baseball game. The Pullman employee asked “who’s batting first?” “OBAMAS UP, PORTER” replied the GI. “You are A TEASE SOLDIER” said the Pullman employee.

Difficult, but delicious puzzle for me. Loved the aha moment involved in getting MERRIAMWEBSTER.

Z 11:50 AM  

@Unknown 11:07 - Peter Buck’s ukulele solo on Losing My Religion comes to mind. And if you watch closely some of the images of IZ seem to be of him plucking rather than strumming.
I don’t know why this showed up below Over the Rainbow but Alone again, or is always worth a listen.

beam aims north 12:01 PM  

One way to be poisoned is by the #$@! TIDEPOD Challenge. Should we really be bringing this nonsense back into the cultural consciousness?

GUITALELE is indeed the worst word ever.

SARANAC, also something I have not heard of, but I don't feel it's not fair game.

Carola 12:01 PM  

My "rating" was, "Now that's a Saturday!" - very tough, very rewarding to finish. I wouldn't say I ever really gained traction - I just managed a few small PODS of crosses that gradually accreted a square or two, and somehow I was able to assemble a completed grid, like a very inefficient MASON.
Missteps that really cost me: "oaf" before both LUG and APE, "quaff" before LAP UP, "lam" before HIE, "with a...?" before LETHALLY.
Help from previous puzzles: ARIGATO.
No idea: EXLiB, TERI, SARANAC, BUSHEY, GUITALELE, EASTON (@smalltowndoc, thank you for the history lesson).

Like others, I was surprised that the "snack" turned out to be a CORNISH PASTY, hearty slab that would definitely spoil your supper. @Yooper and @Michiganman, in Wisconsin, CORNISH miners came to work in the lead mines in the SW corner of the state. Besides bequeathing us the pasty, they also made us the Badger State, as their first dwellings were caves carved out in the mine tunnels, akin to badger dens.

Newboy 12:05 PM  

Can’t decide whether 13D or 10D got the loudest groan, but many other entries had that chagrined aha when nouns became verbs, BASS is realized to be all wet and not in the orchestra, etc.

I’ve heard it said that “a colorful phrase that everyone will know, that's clued in a devilishly clever way” provides the “perfect themeless entry.” (Well-phrased Mr Chen) Today’s CALL THE SHOTS is that in spades! Thought for a while that the towns crossing in the southeast were new suburbs of Natick, but ultimately gotten via backroads crossing. Rex was on a roll; no so here where my puzzle skills and GUITALELE both needed retuning. Hope others liked it too.

Just the struggle needed to face the day ahead, so thanks heaps Sam👍🏼

Frantic Sloth 12:14 PM  

@albatross shell 1139am Okay. I was getting ready to explain to you how interesting your take on "dad joke" or "dad humor" was because my interpretation is the exact opposite. Meaning, I find it charming and endearing; however, once I got to your personal attack on me, I felt nothing but anger with maybe just a soupçon of curiosity. Did I shoot your dog? Did I run over you prized rose bush? Your grawlix was completely uncalled for and I am doing my utmost to not spew some venom right back. Next time, you might want to take a beat before going straight to vitriol.

I guess this is another one of those "let's shit on Frantic" days and so I'm outta here. You might all congratulate yourselves (you know who you are) on a job well done getting rid of me, but I will be back - and guess what? There's not a damned thing you can do about it.

R Duke 12:22 PM  

@Z Peter Buck is playing a mandolin in Losing My Religion

Juli G. 12:34 PM  

A fun Saturday romp. I had AUSABLE is instead of Saranac for a hot minute. I suppose it doesn’t *begin* in the Adirondacks but I’ve never checked. CORNISH PASTY crossing BUSHEY threw me for a loop. I had paste and pasta in there, first. Cornish pasta? Not my finest xword moment. Thanks, Sam, for making a great puzzle.

Anonymous 12:35 PM  

Easy? WTF!

Richard 12:47 PM  

I'm glad OFL found it easy. I can't remember a puzzle where i ran the alphabet (a real time-sink) so many times.

My downfalll was the BUSHEY/CORNISHPASTY crossing. Ran the alpha: no way it's pasty; that's part of a stripper's "costume," right? But didn't the Romans conquer Britain? Maybe they introduced Italian cuisine. Yeah, that must be it: Cornish pasta, mmm, good.

So a DNF, but nothing about British cooking surprises me any more, viz., toad in the hole, spotted dick. If those are edible, then so must be a pasty. From the comments, it sounds a little like an empanada. Que no?

El Gran Jugador 12:54 PM  

Now that the ice has been broken with guitalele, we’re primed for banjolele, which was key to a Wodehouse Jeeves plot, “ After a falling-out concerning Bertie's relentless playing of the banjolele, Jeeves leaves his master's service...”

Masked and Anonymous 12:54 PM  

This puppy confused the M&A a lot.

Liked the Jaws of Themelessness. Not so much the BUSHEY/EASTON intersection.
Liked the MUSEUMEXHIBIT answer and clue a lot. Not so much the clues of mystery for EXLIB, BRIO, LETHALLY, ARIGATO, UNPAIR.

staff weeject picks: Still a bit AREEL post-solvequest, M&A just couldn't quite decide between AGS and AFR. They both anagram to several less raised-by-wolves words, tho.

{Bad way to lose precious nanoseconds?} = BRIO/EXLIB-ly.

Cool symmetric(al) ASIT & ATIT duo. They really let IT go, already.

Thanx for the SatPuz workout, Mr. Non-EZ Ezersky dude.

Masked & Anonymo6Us

A 12:56 PM  

Grateful, like @TJS for the great comments. Some that brightened my day:

“have faith, above all, have faith”
“clues well protected in muddleness”

“I was thinking that “vichyssoise tidbit” would have been kinder since everyone knows that bouillabaisse is seafood. Sheesh.”
“adopt I will”
the entire “Deaccession Day” discussion
(btw, I feel your “uncomfortable schism” pain. I hope the warring parties will at some point at least be able to agree on facts.)

“Did you lose your rye bread?”

“I consider my solve a moral victory”

“In case you're curious Cornish Pasty is pronounced with a short a.”

“I thought it was in the Crossworld Constitution that all rivers are four letters long.”

everything in your post (and, hey, Sam put you in today!)

“once a LIB always a LIB”

@Tom R
“retrospective enjoyment kernel”

jberg 1:11 PM  

@Frantic, I'm running late and skimmed the comments a bit too quickly, but please know that almost all of us love you!

My mind just wasn't clicking today. I saw "galoot" with 3 letters, and could think of nothing but "oaf" so I put it in with confidence. Same with ribS for jokes. And since I've heard of the banjoLELE, I wrote that in,too. That meant there had to be a word for super-adorable ending with J -- so how about 'cat's PJ?' That messed me up enough that I couldn't guess any of the long answers. Finally I saw that there was another 3-letter galoot, and that was all I needed to change oaf to LUG, after which everything fell into place.

For years, I would help my university library decide which books in my field they could get rid of. They called it "weeding," and the resulting books were marked "discarded." Art museums, on the other hand do use the word deaccession when they decide to sell of a painting for $20 million so that they can keep paying their staff.

I spent a total of 6 weeks in ROTC, but that was enough to learn that AT EASE SOLDIER means to stop standing at attention. You stop saluting when the officer returns your salute, or passes by, or whatever. Close enough for crosswords, though.

Whenever I said "Arigato gozaimasu" to someone in Japan, they would reply "arigato gozaimasu" right back at me. But I don't really speak Japanese, so there may well be occasions where one says that other thing.

albatross shell 1:14 PM  

@frantic 1214pm
This time you have misunderstood me, if anything after "however" was meant seriously in your post. In fact, everything before the "however" was precisely how I meant it. Clues: Comic book swearing and the tip of the hat to your lose-your-rye-bread story which I greatly appreciated and was trying to pretend to duplicate with fake AKIMBO posturing in my indignant intemperate diatribe. Please please please! Even driving you away for a nanosecond would fill me with most unpleasurable guilt. I throw myself prostrate before you. Accept my apology. Vitriol for the sloth? No never, no way. Not from me.

Chip Hilton 1:25 PM  

Old Allentown boy sez, “Way to stick up for the Lehigh Valley, @smalltowndoc!” I always loved the drive down 22, passing Lafayette, up on the hill.

I enjoyed this one. Flew through the south, struggled some up north, but broke through with the delightfully clued MERRIAMWEBSTER. Overall, a fun Saturday. Thanks, Sam! Go, Bills!

Kath320 1:29 PM  

They should have called it a "Guke"

Barbara S. 1:34 PM  

Liked it. Found it tough. But battled through to victory with barely a scratch. Appreciated both the MUSEUM and LIBrary answers, given the discussion of the last couple of days.

@egs (11:48)
Tee Hee. I tried all morning to do something with
LET IT GOAL READY. Couldn't be done.

@Z (7:06 PM, last night)
Scholars don’t overlook the homoërotic overtones of Donatello's bronze "David". I think an art historian as early as the 1950s referenced contemporary accounts that suggest Donatello was gay. Homosexuality was illegal, quite common, and not prosecuted particularly harshly in Renaissance Florence. And that’s especially true if you were under the protection of a wealthy and powerful patron like Cosimo de’ Medici, widely believed to have commissioned that sculpture (although I don’t think the documents survive). But scholars don’t focus solely on that aspect of the work. This stuff is important too: how it interprets the Biblical story on which it is based, the political symbolism which relates it to both the city of Florence and the Medici family, the way in which it both is and isn’t in dialogue with Greek and Roman prototypes, where to place it in comparison with other Renaissance depictions of David, and on and on. And, hey, it’s credited with a bunch of significant firsts: the first (1) freestanding, (2) nude, (3) bronze, (4) lifesize sculpture since antiquity. That aint’ just beans on toast. And if you’re still thinking about the way that feather on Goliath’s helmet caresses the inside of David’s leg, it does apparently hide a supporting element that keeps the sculpture upright, but yeah, there might have been other ways of doing that.

@What? (11:07)
Ah, but that’s the beauty of it: there are always alternative interpretations. I look at her and I don’t immediately think “faulty digestion”. She sure looks like a temptress to me, not brandishing an apple, but those oh so tasty and stimulating oysters, salted just the way you like them. I can easily imagine a wealthy collector hanging this painting on his wall and deriving pleasure from looking at her. To borrow from another of today’s conversations – that’s *guilty* pleasure if he’s a good Calvinist, and unalloyed pleasure if he’s not.

You see what you've done? You've created a monster. You were nice to me when I started talking about art and now I won't shut up. But I *can* stop, really -- I know I can. I seem unable to resist answering people who make art-related observations, but rest assured and be assuaged that when those stop, I will, too.

old timer 1:40 PM  

The puzzle was tough, very tough. but doable in the (REAR) END. Literally, as I put in CORNISH PASTY last, and only after SARANAC was dredged from the depths of my memory. I gemerally think of a PASTY as a meal in itself, to be washed down with a pint or two of Best Bitter.

Often as I have visited England, I never heard of BUSHEY before. Fair to say it is famous for nothing else, other than the HP connection. But surely the GUITALELE is the weirdest answer in history. I have heard many a string band in my life, and the banjoLELE, I know. Never seen a GUITALELE.

I do think today's puzzle produced the most hilarious set of comments here that I have ever seen on a single day. @LMS, of course, but Frantic and @Z and many others brought me smiles and chuckles.

P.S. EX LIB was a gimme. For about 20 years, I created a home library by attending the book auction in San Francisco. EX LIB was a common abbreviation in the catalogs. That suggested this was a book not to be bought sight unseen. Some libraries did not do worse than stamp their name on a page close to the front. Others defaced the books everywhere, and then the readers had defaced them further, with highlighters, etc.

Unknown 1:45 PM  

I think certain folks need to take a collective deep breath.
It's a crossword puzzle, that is all.
It's a blog, nothing more.
A lot of nuances get lost in posting something.
It's not a true face to face interaction.
We're all strangers to each other, orbiting the sun.

Can you imagine this blog being done as a Zoom meeting???!!! OMG

Let's all hope nobody gets shot on Inauguration Day.

Frantic Sloth 1:53 PM  

Oh, dear me and no, no, no! Dear @albie, dear @albie - may I call you that? It is I who begs your forgiveness. Then again, there should be no forgiveness for missing a joke - any joke - by a country mile like I did. Talk about being overly sensitive!
As brilliant as I undoubtedly seem, too often I find myself utterly red-faced with embarrassment over my obtusivity. Yes. Read it and weep. I can be an idiot. And one not deserving of your elegance in setting me straight (as it were).
If I might just indulge myself one little favor to ask? Leave your prostrate out of these things? 😘

@jberg 111pm 🥰

@Barbara S 134pm Happily considering myself part of "@Everyone" and marveling at this sublime creature I helped create. So there. 😁

Anoa Bob 2:04 PM  

This one was tough but doable (mostly) and lots of clever clues and interesting grid fill made this a top-notch puzzle in my book. I did get a "The puzzle is filled, but at least one square’s amiss. Fiddlesticks. KEEP TRYING" message. Turns out it was two amiss squares. JARETH wasn't one of the Round Table dudes. (I associate GARETH with the South AFRican xword constructor Gareth Bain.) And CORNISH PASTA in BUSHEA sounded about right. Wrong!

In contrast to some recent puzzles, this one shows exemplary restraint in relying on the oh-so-useful plural of convenience (POC) to fill the grid. Only a handful of the single POCs like GAGS and AGS and not a single two-for-one POC, where a Down and an Across share a final S that could just as easily be a black square. I think a few of those twofers give a grid a watered-down, diluted feel while this grid has a much more filling, overall satisfying feel to it, like the difference between supping a thin soup versus a hearty stew.

Anonymous 2:06 PM  

Oh, wonderful!!!!! I was thinking Irish too, but your comment made me laugh out loud!

Marc 2:11 PM  

And the home of Easton Baseball Bats...I assume.

KnittyContessa 2:17 PM  

What a lovely Saturday puzzle. My first pass left a ton of white squares. I thought I was in for it but then it all started to fall neatly into place. The clues were fresh. I was really enjoying it until CORNISHPASTY/BUSHEY. I've never heard of either and had an "A" at the end instead of a "Y". It looked right to me. I went over and over and over that puzzle. I googled every other clue I could. Checked and rechecked spelling. I finally googled Harry Potter town. What an evil Natick.

Z 2:18 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Z 2:20 PM  

@R Duke - D’Oh. I guess my first thought wasn’t a particularly good thought.

@Barbara S - The question to me is could the homoërotic elements exist absent the religious elements. I think not. Don’t ask Don’t tell seems to have roots far deeper than the Clinton presidency.
BTW - I’ve always felt that Donatello’s David is far better than Michelangelo’s both for all those firsts and just because it is better art. It’s more interesting to look at and more interesting to discuss. It always seemed like discussions of Michelangelo have to spend some time explaining away something that doesn’t quite work. Why is that hand so big. Why is Mary so large. All the explanations make sense but Donatello doesn’t need those sorts of explanations.

bocamp 2:29 PM  

@albatross shell 1:14 PM ❤️ & @Frantic Sloth 1:53 PM ❤️

We can all take a lesson from your last posts!

In the words of John Lennon: Give Peace a Chance. 🕊

Peace Tolerance Kindness Togetherness 🕊

Whatsername 2:34 PM  

@LMS: The Fox News crowd is considered persona non grata with a lot of Trumpsters these days after committing the unpardonable sin of recognizing Joe Biden’s victory. Many former devotees are flocking over to Newsmax now where the alternative facts are more to their liking.

@Frantic: To paraphrase the line from Bridget Jones’ Diary: “We love you just as you are.”

TTrimble 2:34 PM  

Thanks for the moral support :-). But could I point out that's very different from what I got from you the time I mentioned how Wheel of Fortune was another "guilty pleasure" of mine? Where you took the trouble to explain at length to me how terrible the show is, how you "cannot watch a show that abuses its contestants like that"?

Don't know if you've watched The Bachelor or any of its variations, but it's an order or two of magnitude worse in how it abuses its contestants.

If I sometimes do feel some residual guilt, then it resides in a split in my brain between enjoying the basic hilarity of the show and having my kids watch it with me and crack me up with their wild imaginings, and the remembrance that these are actual people we're watching, playing themselves in all their self-induced misery. (Very much like the Housewives series; don't ask me why I hate that show but enjoy The Bachelor.)

One part of me understands Fran's point that if it's a private pleasure, then no real harm done. Another part of me is not so sure. I'm not sure how well I can articulate this without sounding bombastic, but here goes: so much of our lives now is spent gazing at the world through a TV or computer screen, observing others with detachment. Reality shows condition us to watch real people playing themselves in a scripted environment for our entertainment. Now, over the past four years, we have a former reality show host as our leader, whose leadership consists in crafting another reality show of his own making. How for example we are rounding the corner on the coronavirus. Remember the time of the G7 meeting in 2018 where a number of world leaders were pressing Trump to sign on to a joint communique, and in a scripted moment he stood up and tossed two Starburst candies on the table in the direction of Angela Merkel, saying, "Here, Angela. Don't say I never give you anything"? Pure theater. A memorable moment in the Trump show. The lines were always blurred and the reality show all too real, but as long as Trump gets his supporters to detach from the basic humanity of the people he attacks, he succeeds in his mission.

Okay, I'll step down from the soap box now.

Btw, I sometimes like Chopped too, though I much prefer Top Chef, which I hope will be airing again soon. (I think it'll be Portland, Oregon.)

Grouch 2:48 PM  

This blog has become a real downer. I'm going to listen to some Trump speeches to cheer up.

CDilly52 3:17 PM  

All I had to do to let me know to make a gigantic pot of coffee this morning was to open my crossword and see the name Sam Ezersky. He and I seem to have nothing in common. Nothing. At. All. Ever.

And once again, this nearly DNF’d me. The saving grace was the long answers at the top and bottom. When I finally clawed my way through the odd clueing and the things I simply did not know (HooBOY was there some guessing going on in spots) sussing out one of the long answers, CALL THE SHOTS, for example, gave me some first letters with which to get some downs started. And after 60 years as a daily crossworder, and liver of languages generally, I have become a good guesser. . . thankfully.

I always have trouble with Mr. E’s clues. They just aren’t on my wavelength. But today, more than the wavelength issue the problem seemed to be that the puzzle was just chock full of stuff I didn’t know.
Even as a librarian who deaccessioned zillions of materials, I have never heard the term EXLIB to mean something removed from the collection. I learned that latex contains STYRENE, that one of the locations for the Potter movies was in BUSHEY, that there is such a thing as a GUITALELE, and that the SARANAC begins in the Adirondacks, all good things to out in the crossword brain. My favorite new fact, though, bar none is that Doitashimashite prompts the response ARIGATO. Now c’mon, that is worth the price of admission by itself (unless one already has some familiarity with Japanese).

And there was cleverness to enjoy, the clues for MASON, NATIONAL ANTHEM, CALL THE SHOTS and my fave of the day the clue for MERRIAM WEBSTER (which appealed to my former life “librarian self,” all were clever and enjoyable.

Overall, what more could a crossword enthusiast want from a Saturday puzzle? Tough, entertaining and educational. Tucks all the boxes for me but I may need a nap!

But first, I am going to read the blog and all of the comments. And I will enjoy seeing who all was on the “easy” end of the continuum today and who, like me was on the “anything but easy” end. Let me just say that it has been years, possibly decades since it took me over an hour to finish a Saturday. But finish I did. Thank you Mr. E for my mental gymnastics today!

foxaroni 3:28 PM  

As usual, I'm late to the party. I will second all the accolades given to the exceptionally enjoyable comments today, and an exceptionally enjoyable puzzle. Thanks, Mr. Ezersky.

As a lifetime Kansas resident (home of the world champion Chiefs, BTW), I have little to no experience with oceans. So 11D, "once a challenge to eat," was a mystery to me. I finally got to TIDE_OD crossing 21A, "Galoot." TIDECOD sounded perfectly logical, especially since that made the "Galoot" answer, ACE. As in, "How's it goin', Ace? Ya big galoot!" Tidepod eating? Doesn't sound like fun. Give me some Kansas City barbeque instead, thanks.

jberg 3:56 PM  

Can I be the only one here to have seen "Phantom Thread?" Poisoning non-LETHALLY is crucial to the plot. I can't say more, because you really should see it, and no spoilers. Also, the fashion industry part got Martha and me so interested that we went to see "McQueen" next; also fascinating, though the two movies have little in common.

Barbara S. 4:05 PM  

@Z (2:20 PM)
I think the short(ish) answer is No, not in a major commission like this, which will be seen by a large number of people. I would say that in this period, only small-scale works (primarily prints and drawings) for strictly private viewing could have been subtly or explicitly erotic – of whatever sexual orientation – without being couched in an allegorical, mythological, or, strange as it may seem, religious context. And even these might well depict something like the loves of the Olympian gods, rather than the antics of the hoi polloi. But none of that applies to this work and there's no evidence I'm aware of that Cosimo commissioned the David for any titillation value whatsoever.

I could go on about the Michelangelo but, showing uncharacteristic restraint, I'll stop here.

J. Lemon 4:28 PM  

I was hoping to see a bit more love for Bushey, since I spent my formative years there before getting the heck out. I was flabbergasted to see it in today's puzzle. It's actually featured in a lot of movies and TV shows over the years due to it's proximity to Elstree film studios and the Warners Studio. Dr. Who and The Avengers most notably in the 60s and 70s. Star Wars was also filmed there and I recall seeing Kenny Baker (the guy in R2D2) walk past my house. It is also most known (in the UK at least) as the birthplace of the pop group Wham! Simon Le Bon from Duran Duran also hails from there.

Aelurus 4:29 PM  

@Lewis - your description (7:03) of how it solved was very like mine and you said it so well. I checked Sam's last name and laughed at your clever way to preface it. I usually need to look up something on a Saturday but this one I just stuck with and finished, with lots of experimenting and bouncing here and there and aha happiness.

I knew the first clue that caught my eye, so I started with MERYL (29A) and wandered around to the south.

Loved the Merriam-Webster clue (13D). Had the ---GATO in 35D and vaguely remembered the Japanese. Hardest part was the northern tier, until I finally got CALLTHESHOTS and with new downs almost entering themselves I finished off the two long answers below it.

Since it's Saturday, for 1D I wanted something CUTER, and even though they didn't fit, I liked bee's knees or cat's pajamas (@TTrimble 1:11--I too wanted to shoehorn a shortened PJ). The whimsey of those phrases just makes me smile.

My last square to go in was the U (OH! not an O) in the cross BUSHEY/URSI.

Thank you, Sam, for a lovely solve!

Nancy 4:38 PM  

I'm quite sure I didn't put you down, @TTrimble. First of all, I don't put people down.
Second, while I have my faults, the one thing I'm absolutely not is judgmental. I don't care if you like it and watch Wheel of Fortune; that's what makes horse racing, as they say. I just know that I won't watch it. And my not watching it shouldn't adversely affect you in any way.

Everyone's entitled to their tastes and preferences. As long as none of it's foisted on me, I don't care. I only complain when a crossword constructor expects to me to know all the characters in LOTR; the nasty villains in Harry Potter; and the various, extremely peculiar superpowers of a bunch of rather alarming-looking comic-book characters. I never judge, @TTrimble; I just resolutely refuse to either watch or learn about this stuff. So watch "The Bachelor" to your heart's content; in fact if you find someone suitable in my age bracket*, you might want to send him along :)

*That would be the day: "The Bachelor, Senior Edition".

This Guy 4:41 PM  

Easton is also the home of Lafayette College, my alma mater, so that one was actually super easy and I got excited about it!

pmdm 4:42 PM  

Am I the only person to ever have had a Saranac beer?

Frantic Sloth 4:43 PM  

Ah, @CDilly52 317pm I'm sorry, but I can't help myself.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the liver of language located just above the stomach of knots and below the heart of the matter?

@jberg 356pm I haven't seen "Phantom Thread" - are you recommending it? Is it on Netflix? Nuthin' like a good poisonin' to get the juices flowing. 😉

Clearly, I am the only one who didn't love the MERRIAMWEBSTER thingie. What can I say? I'm unique. And to misappropriate an old joke, I'm outstanding in my field...and all alone.
Cheers! 😁

Smith 5:01 PM  

@jberg 3:56

That's an awesome connection. Never thought of it. More like you'd be lucky if you were poisoned non-lethally, if that can be considered a "way". But you've shown me the 🌞.

ghthree 5:12 PM  

Our neighbor Joy Illig, who has visited Japan and picked up some of the language, reminded me that her mnemonic for the clue in 35Down was "Don't touch your moustache."

In turn, this reminded me of the anchor on the evening news who suggested "I'm a dinner jacket" for Iranian president Ahmadinejad.

Aelurus 5:16 PM  

Right after I posted (of course!) I remembered a phrase a friend used to say, “dry as bug’s dust.” How dry would that be? I Googled for its origin but all that comes up is “dry as dust,” not nearly as imaginative as hers.

Another: I took an English lit class in college about noir hardboiled detective novels and in Raymond Chandler’s The Little Sister one of the characters replies “In a pig’s valise,” a creative insult meaning “NEVER!” I liked Chandler’s writing so much I bought a book of his letters, Raymond Chandler Speaking, and having just looked through it again, I know he’d love this crossword blog, as I do.

And Rex might know this—Chandler loved cats. Here’s one of my favorite bits, on publishing, from a letter written on June 19, 1951, to a promotion manager at J. B. Lippincott:

“You have sent me a massive hunk of galleys of a book allegedly by one Charles W. Morton, an Omaha Bostonian who fiddles around with The Atlantic Monthly in some obscure capacity.... You are in a frantic rush. You are holding the presses on the jacket in case I might care to get hysterical and call Mr Morton the greatest American humorist since Hoover. So I am supposed to drop everything, including the week’s washing and ironing and such feeble attempts as I may make to earn a living, and dedicate myself to your noble purpose....
“I know you publishers. You send the proofs off by air express and I sit up all night correcting them and send them back the same way. And the next thing anybody hears about you, you’re sound asleep on somebody’s private beach in Bermuda. But when anybody else has to do something, it’s rush, rush, rush. I may read these galleys and I may not. I may make a comment about them, and I may not. Perhaps I’ll go out and cut the back lawn instead. I have some begonias to plant and some roses to spray, and we have a new Siamese kitten which takes up quite a lot of my time. And let me tell you something else. There’s an article of mine on the way to The Atlantic Monthly and the reception that gets will have a great deal of influence on the reception that Mr Charlie Morton’s compendium of idle verbiage gets from me.”

Nancy 5:16 PM  

@Z and @Barbara S -- I'm no more an expert on sculpture than I am on painting, but I really like THIS guy's "David" best of all.

Diane Joan 5:51 PM  

@Hungry Mother

You're not alone. I only got "ARIGATO" by chance. Yes, I knew the word but I did not see the connection to the clue until suddenly it occurred to me because of the crosses.

pabloinnh 6:06 PM  

@pmdm--You are not alone. I have had a Saranac beer, in fact, I have had several. I think they were an offshoot of Utica Club.

Barbara S. 6:39 PM  

Thanks for the Chandler letter -- brilliant. And nothing's changed in the "rush rush rush" expectations of publishers.

Ah yes, @Nancy, that's a great one: dynamism in stone. He always reminds me a bit of Charlton Heston. Check out Bernini's "Apollo and Daphne," if you don't know it.

Eniale 6:46 PM  

Saturdays I rarely finish without help; today I did okay on the southern half and then stalled. Luckily it then became a FaceTime group effort with son and granddaughter (both very sharp cookies).

And I got QB today!

Double thank you, Sam E - even though you didn't like kine or pika.

Unknown 7:00 PM  

morbidly I had MUSTBEEXHUMED it works so well it must be right, though I...

ChuckD 7:16 PM  

@pablo - Matt’s brewery in Utica. I was weaned on Utica Club in the 70s - we could buy a case in high school for 4.99 - beautiful stubby bottles. They were also the purveyor of the beer ball - fresh beer in a plastic sphere. I think it was short lived. Saranac was their move towards craft - decent stuff but it all kind of tastes the same.

bocamp 7:20 PM  

@Eniale 6:46 PM

SB stuff

👍 for your QB 😊

pg -2 here 🤞

Sam's got a tough job sifting thru hundreds of possible words to make a reasonably challenging, but doable puzzle, so we often see words that are familiar to us (and are Scrabble-worthy), but not included in the SB, alas.

Peace Tolerance Kindness Togetherness 🕊

sanfranman59 7:57 PM  

@Richardf8 (10:45am) ... What an unbelievable story that is about eBay! I haven't heard about it until now. Thanks for sharing.

One of the more disturbing parts of the story is that the executives who perpetrated the whole sordid affair are doing just fine now. One of them got a $57 million "exit package" when he was more or less forced to leave by the eBay board and was recently re-elected to the board of GM, a $317,000 per annum position. His deputy was fired by eBay, but is now the CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Silicon Valley(!!!). The chair of their board said they were aware of what happened at eBay. These executives' mostly 20-something minions who were compelled to do all their dirty work are now virtually unemployable.

Isn't capitalism grand?

pabloinnh 8:11 PM  

@ChuckD- I remember Matts as being the high end version of UC, and both of them being produced by the West End Brewing Co. in Utica. It sure was cheap, and deserved to be. My favorite low end beer from Central NY was Genesee Cream Ale, which still shows up in stores here in NH and neighboring VT occasionally. Thankfully there are tons of better beers and IPA's available these days.

RooMonster 9:58 PM  

Har! My grandfather used to drink GENESEE Cream Ale! I thought it was nasty. 😆 His doctor advised him to stop drinking it. It was too much for his system.
So he switched to Coors Light!

RooMonster Have Some Killian's Red Right Now Guy (but miss Yuengling from PA)

Nancy 10:37 PM  

@aelurus (5:16) -- I was wondering how I missed your terrific Chandler story, former book club editor that I am, and I see we posted at exactly the same time this evening. So that explains it. But I read your post just now and it's really interesting: so revealing of Chandler's persona. He sounds like someone I would have liked to have known.

Sspeaking of which, I'd also like to know you, @aelurus. I hate when I go to someone's blog profile and there's absolutely nothing, I mean NOTHING AT ALL on it. Please go put something on it right now*, @aelurus -- okay?

*Do I sound a bit like Chandler's publisher? Impatient, that is?

Preferred Customer 8:13 AM  

Hi Smith, I'm a day late, so thank you for writing my comment in a timely fashion.

Ex Libris means from the library of. It is meant to identify the current owner of the book.

It is really annoying that both the puzzle creator and the editor did not catch that. Maybe they fell in love with the clue and the potentially obfuscating "deaccession".


kitshef 10:04 PM  

ARGH! So disheartening to struggle all the way through this, only to fall at the end to a one-letter DNF -- SKAN crossing URSA, thinking SKAN was some alternative spelling of SCAN. I thought and re-thought that SCRAPBOOK/SKAN cross to see if I could come up with something else, but never questioned URSA.

I seem to be unique in having gotten BUSHEY without needing all the crosses. Been there many times.

And love Cornish Pasties.

Carol 11:17 AM  

@bocamp thank you for that link for a guitalele. That was wonderful.

Burma Shave 12:48 PM  


her BOSOM gives ME THE hots,
her BUSHEY is A_TEASE, my friend,


spacecraft 12:56 PM  

He has done it again: "Easy." But this time, I'm calling him out on an outright lie. There is NO WAY ANYBODY could POSSIBLY call this easy. Why do you lie like that, OFC? Is it on purpose to infuriate us??

First hour: NINES. That's it. I was almost sure Julia was DOD MERYL, but not 100%. Couldn't confirm, at the start. Eventually I tried a few shots here and there, and got my first longball, MERRIAMWEBSTER. But the puzzle put up a big fight everywhere I went. I felt like an ant trying to push open the petals of a peony.

Hand up for biting into a ShALLOt (yum!) instead of a SCALLOP (double yum!!). Last letter in was literally the last letter in the grid. Was it PASTE or PASTY, BUSHEE or BUSHEY? I finally went with Y: success!

The triumph points for this baby were off the bloomin' scale; I don't care what you-know-who says. Despite having to be a Brit to get that last intersection, I thought it was just this side of fair. It feels like a birdie, but those points! Eagle.

rondo 1:02 PM  

@Teedmn - I had the exact same two square DNF as you. BUSHEe and jIB. There goes a long string of Saturdays, which means a long string of all of the days. Inkfest for at first having GAwain before GARETH.

Glad to see that OFL put up a Sheena EASTON video, albeit the wrong one. Shoulda been "For Your Eyes Only". Ms. EASTON is the only artist ever to be seen on screen performing a Bond film's opening theme song. Probably because she felt at ease with no clothes on. Yeah baby!

Wouldn't call it easy at 45 minutes plus and the DNF to boot.

thefogman 2:42 PM  

I liked it, for the most part. Although I’m not too big on the amount of foreign words - ARIGATO, EXLIB, BRIO and URSI e.g. My last entry was the V in SAWV-EVE. The cluing for that crossing was way too cute = unfair.

Diana, LIW 3:51 PM  

Not even close in the bottom third of the puz. Oh well. I'll take my victories where they be.

Diana Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

leftcoaster 4:21 PM  

It’s interesting how a tough puzzle can appear so much more gettable after “finishing” it-- that is, with a sufficient number of look-ups.

Still, most of the long across and down answers emerged as their crosses filled in, though CORNISH PASTY didn’t. Got AT EASE SOLDIER, but doubt that the “SOLDIER” add-on was considered a proper part of the command.

Some mid-ranger answers simply eluded me, including GARETH, GUITALELE , TIDEPOD, BUSHEY, EASTON, and SARANAC. Wasn’t interested in seeing “SAW" at all, or any of its sequels ending in "SAW V". Have to call that gross overkill.

So, didn’t get all of it, but got enough to feel okay about what I did get of the gettables

Anonymous 4:48 PM  

Exlib in this instance means ex-library. A book that is no longer on the shelves for one reason or another. (Sold, stolen, fell apart, etc.) It's card in the catalogue often remains, with an An X across it, letting you know it is no longer available.

Anonymous 12:55 AM  

Check online-Latin-dictionary.com
for ursus. Ursi is correct nominative plural. I thought it was wrong also,since I started learning Latin over 60 years ago. I still have my Latin Missal and was an altar boy. Ursus was totally unfamiliar to me, and I took Latin classes through my junior year in high school. Who knew? And not on a totally unrelated matter, the root of the word arctic from the Greek language, also means bear.

ramroot 2:44 PM  

Absolutely right, PhilM, the pasty is a full miner's meal, not a "snack"! This from a Cornish descendant.

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